As the auto world quickly moves beyond combustion engines for its cars, yacht and boat builders have begun to do the same. But electric boats are more challenging than electric cars. While drivers can (more or less) depend on a Tesla Model S to get about 300 miles on a single charge, boat battery life tends to be less predictable. Driving a car within defined roads and speed limits makes forecasting the battery usage somewhat reliable, but cruising a boat on water means contending with weather, wave height, and currents as just some of the most significant variables affecting engine performance and battery endurance.
A handful of intrepid builders are forging ahead by using advanced battery technologies with smart systems and motors—and that’ll likely leapfrog the five boats on this list to the head of the electric pack. Established U.S. and European builders are using electric engines in proven hulls, while start-ups are using the latest technologies to power designs built around the electric engines. All five boats make it clear that new technology doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice luxury and comfort in the design. Like the auto industry, the electric revolution in boats is coming. These boats are just the tip of the spear.