Is Electric Propulsion Worth the Time & Investment?


Electric propulsion for boats has been around for over 100 years.  It is only recently that new technology has enabled electric boats to start competing against internal combustion engines.  On December 5th the Boating Ontario Conference will feature two Canadian companies who have embraced electric engines to propel their product lines.  Fred Gingl, a former President, CEO and Vice Chairman with auto parts giant Magna International, now creates BionX products including the SeaScape12.  Ian Bruce, owner of Montreal Classic Boatworks, designed and built the Bruce 22 and will soon offer an electric motor option.

Fred Gingl will explain why he decided to relinquish his senior Magna roles to become Founder and President of Magna Marque International Inc., a new product group focused on alternative mobility products. Throughout his 44 year career with Magna, Mr. Gingl, who is known as the architect of many Magna technologies, has always been a true visionary.

Mr. Gingl and his business partner, Mr. Dubé, combined their experience, resources and entrepreneurial spirit to create BionX products and services that are being highly valued by consumers, distribution partners and renowned bicycle manufacturers such as Diamant, KTM, Matra and Trek.

BionX has recently launched the SeaScape12, a small boat that offers the choice between powering yourself or being assisted by a silent, powerful and environmentally friendly electric propulsion system.

Ian Bruce, an Industrial Designer and two-time Olympian on the Canadian sailing team, will explain why he is putting an electric engine on the back of his newest boat. Ian received the Order of Canada in 2009 in recognition of his service to sailing, both in Canada and internationally, and in particular for his involvement in the design and development of high-performance boats for young sailors. Perhaps the best known of these was the Laser dinghy which became a worldwide phenomenon.

The Bruce 22, a new – but retro-styled boat modeled on a friend’s 1940 mahogany runabout – designed and built by his company Montreal Classic Boatworks, will soon host an electric motor.

After having built over 100,000 sailboats in his career, Ian has decided to concentrate on the power boat. The foray into electrics had its genesis about 10 years ago when he designed (but did not build) a 15 ft period electric launch for a friend. He was struck by the fact that, while it was great to sit with a glass of wine on a twilight cruise along the shore line and wave to friends around the corner, it was pretty frustrating if you wanted to cross the lake or visit friends at the other end of the lake if it was going to take two hours there and back if they lived 4 miles away!

Then, more recently, numerous lakes have banned fossil fuelled power boats. While he has total sympathy for the reasons for the ban – not the least of which is someone water skiing at 7 in the morning when it’s nice and calm but you are still asleep –  he can’t imagine it’s much fun owning a lovely cottage on the lake, with a dock, but no boat tied to it. The electric motor may be the cure for this problem. Ian and his friends are water skiing behind the Bruce 22 Electric with single slalom ski! The noise of the water rushing by gets a bit annoying!

Come to the Boating Ontario Conference to hear why Fred Gingl and Ian Bruce think electric motors are worth the time and investment.

For more information on the Boating Ontario Conference visit

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