Why combustion engines are outdated

In: technology

Jun 28, 2022

For years, diesel was the standard in both leisure and commercial marine. But in recent years several scandals have taught us that its days as the go-to fuel have counted. Many car brands have been found guilty for tampering of emission control systems and successively consumers lost their appetite for diesel powered cars. In the Netherlands and Germany, countries that both traditionally see a large diesel market share, sales have plummeted. New diesel car registrations fell from around 30% to less than 5%.

And although the marine industry does not have the same level of certification requirements, governments have now set their sights on (leisure) marine too. Not only on the diesel power trains, but also on the gas powered ones. In fact, California is trying to ban all small Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) -powered devices such as lawnmowers. This ruling may have an impact on small outboards too. The reason is simple, to save costs, many marine engines do not have an exhaust gas treatment system. A modern gas powered 5 hp 4-stroke outboard generates the same amount of greenhouse-gas emissions as 39 cars driving 95 km/h as a result.

Luckily, new technologies, such as electric drivetrains, have come down in price as volume goes up. These new technologies now prove to be a viable marine propulsion alternative to many eco-conscious consumers.

Have a look at the Propel S1 outboard and Propel D1 inboard.

Our parent company, Saietta, has developed a highly efficient pancake-shaped motor that also proves its worth in traction applications such as scooters and light vehicles. We use this compact and ‘torqy’ 48 V motor in both our products and combine them with an automotive grade lithium battery pack. These solutions are relatively new, but in numerous instances they proved to be a good, accessible and clean alternative.

To convince you to switch over to emission-free electric propulsion, we collected multiple arguments on why you should avoid buying a fossil fuel powered marine engine in 2022.

Fossil fuels are the root cause of the environmental crisis

The environment asks for cleaner and more sustainable technology. We owe it to the next generation  to do better and deliver emission-free alternatives, as ICEs have contributed to global warming and premature death caused by air-pollution. 

So far, it appears that the OEMs currently producing ICE powered in- and outboard motors are still lacking this insight and sense of urgency. None of them has developed a serious alternative, available to consumers today. The comparison with the car industry cannot be greater, as several marine-equivalents of Tesla have come to market with great alternatives.

At Propel, it is our goal to propel boating into the electric era while advancing affordable and accessible electric propulsion and battery systems that support the transition to decarbonization and clean mobility on waterways.

Outboard engines generally don’t match well with sloop and tender designs

Isn’t this interesting? Spend half an hour watching sloops with an outboard motor, and you are puzzled why outboards are designed the way they are. Now try to unsee this the next time you are on the water. Design is important to us, and it plays an important role in our daily lives. It is not only for aesthetics, though, we try to understand who our customers are, and how they will use our product. Colour, materials, interfaces, ergonomics. It’s quite a task.

The electric outboard motor’s design follows classic Dutch aesthetics: it exhibits a simple, quirky style, with clean, uncluttered lines. The S1 is deliberately devoid of brash logos, names and power labels.

The unit’s round casing, high above the waterline, follows the form of the Saietta axial flux ‘pancake’ motor inside. Discreet ‘Propel’ branding is embossed into the white casing. Customers can choose their own styling accent with a choice of a Satin Silver, Sage Green or Nordic White finish to the shaft.

Some engines are not easy to operate 

Fuel on your hands when refilling the jerrycan, carrying a fuel tank around, choking, pulling hard on the pull cord and again…

Not with our motors. Both the S1 and D1 are started with a simple flick of a switch. The colour display gives owners all the information users need to safely enjoy their time on the water. The display’s clear and simple animated graphics makes using the motors easy, even for those with minimal boating experience, and a great choice for rental fleet operators.

With a closed-loop cooling system, the motors also require minimal maintenance.

Theft is a serious problem, mobility too

Your outboard motor is an easy target for thieves, as figures from recent years show. And taking it home is no easy task. Modern outboards can provide clever anti-theft systems to prevent thieves from taking your motor, or to track it down and recover after someone stole it. Propel is working on traditional and digital anti-theft solutions that give you peace of mind.

In case you do need to remove the motor, we have chosen lightweight materials and techniques, to save weight without changing the overall performance characteristics.

Fish killed by water pollution.

Water contamination

Another source of environmental damage are oil, grease, and fuel spills. Oil spills can have devastating effects on the marine environment due to the structure and behaviour of oil. Long after an oil spill is ‘cleaned’, an ecosystem will continue to have traces of the substance in it for evermore.

Small spills caused by recreational boaters overfilling fuel tanks, running leaky outboard motors, and oily bilges may not seem like a big deal, but drop by drop, they can do serious harm to fish, birds, and other wildlife.

Did you know that, like land-based pollution, oil spills created by recreational boats are hard to track, as about 80% of oil spills go unreported. And just a cup of oil accidentally spilled over the side of a small boat can quickly create a slick the size of an entire marina.

The long-term damage to species and their habitats, including nesting and breeding areas, is the most detrimental environmental effect an oil spill can cause.

Noise, exhaust gasses & vibrations 

Having difficulty being part of the conversation with your guests or need to raise your voice to get a point across? Seeing stressed ducks swimming away from you quickly. Catching a glimpse of seemingly annoyed people who also want to enjoy their time on the water or on shore.

Better alternatives

As a boat owner, you surely don’t want to be the reason causing problems. You are here for a good time as well. To enjoy the waters in blissful silence, alone and together with others, without treating your guests or others with gas exhaust fumes, it is time for you to go fully electric. Not only for yourself, but for marine life, the environment, and others around you.

Read this article for more reasons why to choose for electric boating.

In the end it’s up to you: Do you stick with old habits? Or do you ride the electric wave with Propel and be part of a positive change? We are here to support you. Find more information in our knowledge base or get in touch.

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