CES 2023: How Boatbuilders Are Making an impact with Innovation

With several exhibits showcasing the latest and future technology, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) provides a glimpse into the future of boating.

Volvo Penta, Brunswick Corp., Navier, and Candela are displaying top models in Las Vegas—the closest boating destination, Lake Mead, is a few hours away—to demonstrate to the tech world that boating is more than just stuck gas.

“Many people don’t consider the technology used in the marine industry,” says Brunswick Corp., the world’s largest boat and engine manufacturer. CEO Dave Foulkes Brunswick’s Mercury Marine Division introduced its new Avator 48V-volt electric outboard; a new line of electric boats called Veer and its Fathom e-Power system. The most exciting feature is the fully interactive display, which allows visitors to virtually control the boat in the boat twilight. Control buttons and a massive 140 degree wide screen enhances realism.

“It’s really more than an interactive entertainment platform,” says Foulkes. “We can present a combination of virtual challenges—docks and other boats in unusual lighting conditions—that are not easily replicated in the physical world. 

“We will then use that information in the autonomous systems we are developing.” First seen in 2020, Brunswick has been at CES for almost the last two years, but is back this year with a bigger show that includes new technology and Sea Radio. 370. 

Four Mercury outboards The entry is a 600-horsepower V12 Mercury Verado, the industry’s largest outboard, which rises 11 feet off the ground. “We thought it was perfect for selfies,” says Foulkes.

Volvo Penta, Mercury Marine’s main competitor, was another company investing heavily in new technology. In 2022, it attended CES virtually and presented its new auxiliary docking platform. 

“This year, we’re bringing visitors to the Arctic, where they can experience what it’s like to experience near-silent boating in the Svalbard archipelago thanks to an advanced hybrid electric system,” says Johan Inden. Volvo Penta Marine
Last summer, the company delivered the 50-foot all-electric cruiser Kvitbjrn to Huippuvuor. 

The display recreates the experience of driving in the polar regions in an almost silent electric boat. “They can also explore the unique technology that makes this unique experience possible—less than 800 miles from the North Pole,” says Inden.

yacht design
Courtesy Brunswick Corp.

Although Vegas is far from the North Pole, Swedish company Inden traveled to CES because it was “a launch pad for countless technologies,” according to Inden. Volvo’s exposition on the future of boating, which includes artificial islands, autonomous boats, and even boat-to-boat electric charging, should also give it street cred in the tech world when it comes to combining sustainability and an easier life on the water.

Another Swedish builder, Candela Yachts, is showing off its C-8 electric sailboat at this year’s CES. Candela Mikael Mahlberg says the C-8 is a “game changer” for sustainable boating. “Even though it’s a boat, it’s actually a robot under the carbon fiber shell,” he says. “One that performs several functions automatically to ensure a smooth flight in all conditions.”

American competitor Navier, which has completed its 30-foot electric foil yacht, will also be at CES for the first time this year. The N-30 has a top speed of 30 knots and a range of 20 knots, which is an impressive 70 miles.

Two-ply boards are two of the best examples of the future of boating available today. Both companies hope to attract people other than boaters to their brands. “Many of Candela’s buyers are early adopters of the technology—influential people in the tech industry who probably wouldn’t even consider buying a noisy, gas-guzzling powerboat,” he says.

Building a technical image is crucial for these companies to differentiate themselves from the “old” boating world. Brunswick Corp. announced at CES that it is changing its logo and tagline. The old tagline, “Innovation and inspiration on the water,” has been replaced by the much more generic but forward-looking “The next one doesn’t rest.”

Candela’s electric foiling boat will be on display at CES. “Under its carbon-fiber skin, it’s actually a robot,” says a company rep about the new technology.

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