Boat Review by: Bill Jennings
When it comes to electric powered boats, I always say: "speed, range, price -- pick any two.” What I mean by that is, for the most part, electric-powered boats (at least in their current form) are somewhat of a compromise. What if a buyer just needs a boat that moves slowly and predictably for simple applications, and doesn’t need high-end performance? What if they want to be totally maintenance free and want to be able to hope in the boat anytime and go. This would be where Vision Marine Technologies comes in with their all-new Volt 180.
The Volt 180 offers plenty of range that can be further extended by adding a second or third battery. And you can buy a Volt for under $40,000 Cdn, which is considerably less than you would pay today for a standard reciprocal gas-powered runabout.
So, I took a test ride and a close look at the Volt, one of three electric boats offered by Vision Marine. The open interior design on this 17'9" boat, with U-shaped cushions forward and a bench seat aft, boosts passenger capacity to 11 people. A large Corian table with built-in cup holders fills the space between seats. Floor lighting adds a nice touch.
Volt offer a huge selection of colour choices for the hull, canvas, and leather seat covers. Unlike many electric boat companies, the Volt is available immediately. It has entered the market and it’s ready for you. Specifying your own colour options might necessitate a custom build but, even then, they promise delivery within eight weeks.
Operating the Volt is bone simple. A thin center-mounted console has but one screen and a throttle control. The single screen monitors RPM, mph, remaining watts, and miles travelled. There is a row of six toggle switches that control other electrics, such as the horn.
The outboard motor, along with the controls, are manufactured by E Propulsion, an established marine electric company. After a button start, moving the throttle to the right, then forward, puts the Volt in motion. With a published top speed of 6 mph, there is little time to notice being in acceleration mode, because you are at top speed almost instantly. There was a medium chop on the water as we moved along in comfort. A deep chine at the bow spread waves, even larger wakes, harmlessly to either side. This boat is so relaxing that if it were mine, I would post a "No Sleeping" notice at the helm, just to be safe. On my test drive, I was able to reach a GPS top speed of 5 mph.
Handling when docking is predictable. At just over 1,700 lbs and with a shallow 12" draft, the Volt is susceptible to wind effect. The quick response outboard allows you to stay ahead of any problems and a large super thick rubber rub rail adds to your security.
Whether this boat is for you or not, you have to like it. It is maintenance free, stress free, simple to drive, a smooth ride, and has a great hull design. It’s a boat that that will provide a casual cocktail hour cruise for friends, or a post dinner ride for family. Just don't be in a hurry to get there.