UWA Floats Electric Jet Ski

OCT 26 2015 BY TDILLARD 23

This is brilliant.  We know, because we’ve wanted to build one for a few years now, so it must be, right?

We all love (to ride) jet skis, but we all hate (to hear and smell) them*.  An electric jet ski?  What could be more awesome and fun, as well as not annoying to everyone else within a 5 mile radius?  The guys at the University of Western Australia felt the same, and built one.  Read the story here, on the ABC Australia site, where we culled a few specs:

  • Motor: 50kW
  • Cost: $15,000 (AUD), or about $11,000 USD
  • Charging: 3hrs plug-in, 7 min at an “EV charging station”
  • Speed: N/A (ultimately matching “conventional craft”
  • Weight: N/A
Side/rear view

Side/rear view

As it’s still a prototype, and they’re working on the throttle systems, there’s no top speed, and they’re not divulging the weight at this point.

Also, that little bit about water and electricity?

The batteries are double insulated and along with the 50 kilowatt electric motor are encased in a watertight housing.

“We’re dealing with really high currents and reasonably high voltages and we don’t want anyone to get hurt in any way,” Mr Beckley said.

“So each step of the project everything’s been made sure it’s waterproof, double waterproof and so on and so forth.

Professor Thomas Braunl, director of the Renewable Energy Vehicle Project at UWA

Professor Thomas Braunl, director of the Renewable Energy Vehicle Project at UWA

Thanks for the tip from Jeffrey Black’s EV page on Facebook, and you can see more at the UWA Facebook page.  See the video here:

UWA students build Australia’s first electric jet skiHow awesome is this? A team of UWA students built Australia’s first electric jet ski!

Posted by The University of Western Australia on Thursday, October 22, 2015

*…apologies to Prof Braunl, but we thought if that phrase all by ourselves.  He must have been reading our minds, from the future.  

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23 Comments on "UWA Floats Electric Jet Ski"

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Is is quiet? The noise is the worst thing about those personal watercraft.

found the video too

I’ve been waiting for years for this, and I hope they get this marketable soon. I live on a bay off of Lake Ontario and on summer weekends (and lots of other times, as well) these damn things zip back and forth and remind me of gnats or mosquitoes, with just as much charm. I have hated jet skis since the morons who ride them would dangerously clog up the approach to a boat launch I was using in SC back in 1989. I have never desired to own one…but I think I would make the plunge just to show their operators that being a pain in the butt should not be a prerequisite to owning a ‘personal’ watercraft (disclaimer…I have piloted 600′ vessels…both submerged and surfaced…I know that one can operate a vessel with responsibility…but as a class, jet ski operators are tantamount to stuff we used to find in the bilge)

Yeah, they definitely are annoying. They also frequently have no respect for the environment, destroying wetland habitats. They love to jump off the wake of larger boats, bringing them dangerously close to other boats underway. They mostly leave me alone in my sailboat (no wake to jump from me!), but the sound is just obnoxious. Gnats are what I think of too.

BTW, do you live in NY or Canada?

I live in NY, west of Oswego. I didn’t feel like elaborating on my boat ramp comment, but since you did comment, I will add a bit more. YES, they are like piranha or lampreys, clinging to boat wakes. The boat ramp I mentioned was treacherous because it had a narrow approach…but because of this narrowness, any wakes would bounce off the sides, amplifying the effects. So, there would normally be several ‘gnats’ in the way as you headed for the ramp- totally disregarding safety and the fact that it was next to impossible to alter your course at the last moment to avoid them. Gnats, indeed.

It’s always great to meet another local here, in a forum dominated by left-coasters. I’m in Syracuse, and sail mostly on Oneida. When my kids are older, I will venture out into Ontario. Oneida gets narrow towards the Oneida river on the west end, and the speed limit drops to 5MPH in the mouth of the river. I’ve noticed they like to hang out there and play off the waves from larger boats coming off a plane.

I can only imagine the frustration of your situation. The best you can do is hope that they can get out of your way, since they are much more maneuverable than a larger boat. It’s harder still to change course on a sailboat with a 600lb lead keel and a 4 HP outboard. But again, at least I have no wake to speak of with which to temp a jet skier.

Well, since you are fairly local, I’ll be even more specific- Fair Haven & Little Sodus Bay. The nice thing about this time of year…I get to look at the brilliant fall leaves across the bay…without the sounds of the gnats. All the leisure craft are (mostly) gone. Instead, I wake up to the sound of gunshots (from the waterfowl hunters).

I grew up on a lake in Minnesota and I HATED those damn things. Saturday and Sunday morning waking up the BBRRRRRRBRRRRRBRRRBBRR WWAAAAAAAAWAAAAAWWAAAAA of those things.

I have to admit they are fun to ride but the NOISE is too much. Electric versions will be a HUGE step up. And less gas/oil in the lake. And less exhaust.

I wouldn’t mind trying one out!

Ive been waiting for one of these as well. I just bought 2 Seadoo Sparks (only $4999 each) and curiously they are not electric. They are only 400 lbs each and two of them on a trailer tow quite nicely behind my Nissan Leaf each weekend. Most skis are 186kw or more (250-310hp) now but even my little Sparks are 67kw (90hp). My Kawasaki SXR 800 standup is also 67kw. They are going to have to put 2 of those 50kw motors in a ski to get respectable performance unless they can keep it under 400 lbs. Im ready for one though. We started a while ago with the two stroke skis and recently switched to the four stroke Sparks which are awesome. But there is nothing like an electric drivetrain! Way to go guys, i hope it catches on. Powering a watercraft takes a huge amount of power compared to a motorcycle or car though.

I just watched the video. Did anyone else notice that the pwc never got up on plane? Either it doesn’t have enough power to or it is too heavy. I hope it can at least plane out as anybody who boats or jetskies can tell you, that’s very important. It looks like top speed in the video was 10-15 mph.

I don’t know what the engineering challenges are, but since it’s possible to build a racing motorcycle which is fully competitive with gas-burning racing cycles, then it seems they should be able to build a jetski capable of going as fast as a gasoline-powered one.

However, running time (“range”) might be more limited than customers would like.

Can’t build a competitive Battery Electric Motorcycle? They’re getting very close and have been improving 5+ mph per year. At the current rate of improvement they should be able to go head to head in 2 years.


Electric winner – Team Mugen 119mph
Gas bike – Superbike winners at 128 mph

Mission Motors – bankrupt

Hi Ken

This video was taken during our first on water test where our power was limited for safety reasons. Yes it was not planing in the first test shown in the video. It is however now planing and going faster after each test.

There will be more videos to come to demonstrate its full capabilities once testing has been completed.

Michael (REV ski project test driver)

Few comments…

First, calling all personal watercraft “jetski” is kind of like calling all tissues “kleenex”. Both are specific products of specific companies, and registered trademarks.

Second, most modern PWC have four-stroke engines that pass California emissions, and are as quiet as most powerboats that have an underwater exhaust. They are not the loud buzzy two strokes that everyone remembers and most hate.

PWC jet pumps are very inefficient, and there are virtually no opportunities for regenerative operation or solar charging, like in a car or an airplane. So a PWC seem like a bad EV application.

Because of the above inefficiency, the inside of a typical 3-person PWC is mostly storage, engine (up to 300HP), and gas tank (up to 15 gallons). They can reach 75 MPH scary-fast, and they sell for only $15K. There is not much room for batteries in that little hull, so I doubt there is any way an electric version can compete yet on range or price or performance.

Generally a good comment, but a little misguided about what people “remember”. Personally, I remember the many PWCs that buzzed around my boat this past summer. They were all loud, obnoxious, and smelly.

I do agree that it’s not the best platform for electrification. I would think a nice runabout could be a good platform. The batteries could be placed below the floor, out of sight. 50kW is a small motor for a modern boat, but it’s still not unheard in such a boat.

But really any watercraft that we electrify makes a huge difference in the water quality. Even a 4-stroke leaves a trail of oil in the water behind the boat. I went with an electric outboard in 2011, and the reduction in noise, smells, and oil in the water have all been very noticeable.

Mostly correct. For those that aren’t as familiar with pwc as we are, a Yamaha is a Waverunner, a Kawasaki is a Jet-Ski (even if its a sit-down model) and a Sea-doo is well, a Sea-doo. And the speed limit for a brand new stock pwc is 70 mph as set by the coast guard, not 75 mph. Most models top out at 65-67 mph. My stand up only goes 48 mph and its rediculous at thats speed although everyone with a pwc is only worried about top speed for some reason. My Spark tops out at 50 mph which is also plenty fast enough. I agree a pwc isn’t very efficient and an electric one would not have a very long run time especially since they are ridden at wot alot.

And there are still plenty of two strokes, both my stand ups and my Waveblaster are loud smelly two strokes, only my Sparks are the newer four strokes and they are very quiet.

Good point … in stock form, they’re governed to 70 MPH, but aftermarket mods (I’m sure) will allow that to be exceeded by quite a lot.

My quiet California-emissions-compliant 4-stroke SeaDoo is a 2002, so that technology no longer seems very new.

“Also, that little bit about water and electricity?”

Anything battery powered is automatically safer than a plug in power appliance. Electrical flow only occurs from a positive terminal of the battery to the negative, which means that you have to insert yourself into the circuit to get shocked. If a wire in the machine got shorted to water, you would have to be holding something that would complete the circuit, which would mean that it also would have to be connected to the battery.

Its about the same safety factor as a transformer insulated pool light.