The Future is Electrifying
Sailing into the Future: eD-TEC’s eD-QDrive and the Rise of Electric Boat Propulsion
Electric boat propulsion, spearheaded by companies like eD-TEC, is making strides, and by all accounts, it’s not about to stop or fade away like some TikTok trend. Most major engine manufacturers have some electric propulsion engine on the drawing board, if not already on the market, and the electric propulsion movement has inspired many start-up companies. A perfect example is eD-TEC, a German company created by former Volkswagen Group Chief Strategist Michael Jost, who has led the VW Group toward a future of “smart” cars. Jost, along with his family, has gathered a team of sustainability “believers” to create electric mobility for the ocean. Their first step to “electrify the ocean” with smart boats comes with the development of the eD-QDrive.
The system, designed and developed by the team, is an electric drive solution for vessels from small dayboats and tenders to performance cruisers up to 98 feet in length. A modular and scalable design allows for an installation of a single unit up to a quad setup with a high-C-rate battery bank for a power range from 50kW to 2,400kW and a modular battery bank that offers power from 80kWh to 320kWh. eD-TEC plans an operating window between 20 to 40 knots. In order to achieve optimal performance in electric boat propulsion, eD-TEC focuses on six core principles.
“Michael really drove the change in the automotive industry and pushed the transformation of the entire VW brand,” said Marc Jost, chief strategy officer at eD-TEC. “But there’s a clear mismatch between transforming the automotive into a more sustainable market and then hopping on a vessel and blowing out diesel fumes. That led us to think about how one can achieve a sustainable drive train, or a sustained, measured method of propulsion, without sacrificing convenience, performance, or range.”
The eD-QDrive Revolution: eD-TEC’s Leap Towards Sustainable Electric Boat Propulsion
eD-TEC is equating that in boating, resistance decreases with speed, and with that, range increases. But, to reach this speed and range along with comfort and efficiency, the approach requires that the boat’s entire setup work together—from the hull to the engines to the props and everything in between, including managing that system through the cloud and back to achieve continuous updates to fine-tune the system for optimal performance.
The six core principles that make up the holistic eD-TEC Technology Stack starts with the backbone in which all components (propellers, gearbox, etc.) operate in their ideal range within the network.
The second is the hull. Depending on the builder and its model, the hull design needs to fit the principle of “go faster to go farther” by reducing drag. Developing a lightweight and efficient hull enhanced with a stepped hull design or with foiling technology is the goal.
The third principle focuses on the drive train, and besides being plug and play to simplify installation, operation, and maintenance, the high performance-to-weight ratio is critical. eD-TEC uses axial flux technology for the motor, which typically provides more torque for a given volume than the traditional radial flux motors. The axial flux motor offers a high performance-to-weight ratio so that the 100kW eD-QDrive unit weighs only 44 pounds (20kg) with the entire drive train weighing only 220 pounds (100kg).
Electric Innovation with AI: A Closer Look at eD-TEC’s eD-QDrive
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the fourth principle and comes from the E3/AI/AD principles found in the automotive world. eD-TEC explains it as the “end-to-end electronics setup of the platform that delivers access to the firmware of every component via a central AI box coupled to cloud-based connectivity and analysis.” This box is the heart of the stack and manages the operation of the components (propulsion, cooling, charging, switching, and battery management). In the future, it will also accommodate the addition of elements like LIDAR (light detection and ranging) for assisted docking and even autonomous driving.
Cloud-based connectivity is the fifth principle and enables over-the-air updates of the system and equipment, remote monitoring and predictive maintenance, and continual system improvement. This is supported by the sixth concept, the subscription model for software updates and upgrades, one of which could unlock a power upgrade in real time to give a performance boost when cruising.
The eD-QDrive 1 system is 100 percent electric, reliable, and safe, designed for easy installation, and is an outstanding example of the future of electric boat propulsion. The drive is available now for vessels up to 33 feet (10 meters), providing up to 200kWc. The eD-QDrive 2 and eD-QDrive 3 will allow vessels up to 79 feet (24 meters) to be powered by eD-TEC in the near future. ed-tec.de