While the electric car market is proliferating exponentially, another sector is significantly gaining traction. That market is the electrified boating industry. Whether it’s Taiga Motors with its electrified PWCs or manufacturer Candela focusing on hydrofoil tech, the EV industry is broadening to cover a vast expanse of the maritime sector. But there’s a fresh face in the industry focusing on something entirely unorthodox— Zen Yachts.
As the latter portion of the name implies, Zen Yachts is a startup specializing in designing and manufacturing electric watercraft. Founded in 2021, Zen Yachts received Series-A funding from Ocean Zero, an investment firm focusing on sustainable aquatic travel. Ocean Zero is led by Stephen Petranek and Chris Anderson, the latter of whom is the head of TED.
Zen Yachts is currently working on bringing its upcoming ZEN50 concept to life. The ZEN50 is a 51.5-foot (15.7-meter) fully-electric catamaran with a 12-passenger capacity. It offers up to four bedrooms, each attached to its own full bathroom, a complete kitchen, and three levels of space to explore.
To minimize drag, thus maximizing range, the ZEN50 needed to adopt a carbon fiber multi-hulled design. Effectively, the ZEN50 is classified as a catamaran. Most of the sleeping quarters are within the hulls and the main living areas are on the second level.
Propelling the ZEN50 are two 50kW electric motors paired with a 160kWh LFP battery pack. In addition to the powertrain system, the ZEN50 has a rooftop solar array as standard. Pushing up to 17kW of peak power, Zen Yachts says that it should be able to travel at around 5 knots continuously. In other words, the boat can travel indefinitely at 5 knots based on the solar energy harvested during the day.
But Zen Yachts isn’t just focusing on solar. The firm is partnering with France-based wing sail firm Ayro. Ayro manufactures fully-automated wing sails that have an adjustable angle of attack and camber. With these actuators within the sails, Ayro says its wing sails can have twice the performance as traditional sails.
Gallery: Zen Yachts ZEN50
“We’ll be the first production leisure craft that will be installing [Ayro’s technology],” says Matic Klemenc, the sales and marketing director of Zen Yachts. Unlike the solar array, the Ayro wing sails will be optional, but their benefits are notable. With the wing sails installed, the ZEN50’s continuous cruising speed can increase to between 6 and 9 knots, depending on conditions. Zen Yachts also says that the 50’s top speed will increase from 10 knots to 14 knots with the Ayro wing sails installed.
Depending on trim level, the solar-only ZEN50 will start at $1,700,00 and range to $2,1000,000, depending on options. The base Sea Racer trim will include appliances such as a fridge, navigation, and safety features. Upgrade to the $1,900,000 Continental Cruiser trim, and buyers will receive additional options, such as air conditioning and an onboard water maker. The top-of-the-line Tropical Explorer model will run $2,100,000, though Zen Yachts hasn’t yet clarified what options it will have.
Opting for the Ayro wing sails will dramatically increase the pricing schematics. The wing sail models, offering the comfort and convenient options as above, will start at $2,150,000, $2,400,000, and $2,650,000, respectively.
The ZEN50 will be built in Spain, and Zen Yachts says the total lead time from placing an order to delivery will be around approximately 14 months.