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Water Work for EV Battery Developer Enevate

Fast-charging options for yachts, other boats

Irvine’s Enevate Corp., which is developing fast-charging battery technology designed to power up an electric-powered automobile as quickly as one fuels up a car at the gas station, is preparing to take its products to the street—and the seas.

Enevate and boat propulsion innovator Sealence of Milan, Italy, said earlier this month they will collaborate on development of a high-performance battery cell for jet boat propulsion.

Chief Executive Robert Rango said the fast-charging batteries with high energy density
for marine uses have the same chemistry as those for e-motorcycles, power tools and cars.

“Marine is really an EV (electric vehicle) on the water,” Rango told the Business Journal.
It’s the latest sign of expansion for Enevate, which is rapidly growing its local base, raised nearly $200 million in funding, and now seeing its batteries begin production.

Commercially, the marine industry is a huge, promising, and relatively easy market for the company’s batteries—which go by the daunting name of lithium-ion silicon-dominant—to enter, the exec believes.

“It represents a good gateway market for us—meaning something that can happen much quicker than four-wheel passenger EVs,” Rango told the Business Journal on Oct. 19.

He says production for marine uses is planned to start next year, with the company entering the “Goliath market” for automobiles in 2025.

“I like the marine [sector]. I like the e-motorcycle,” Rango said. “The e-motorcycle is very exciting … motorcycles are very cool—that has a high attraction to us.”

Production for e-motorcycle use could start as early as the end of this year.
The company is also aiming for the power tool sector.

Yacht Power

Sealence’s DeepSpeed electric-powered jets can deliver from 250 horsepower to 1,300 horsepower, enough to power sea craft ranging from smaller craft to yachts. The Italian company was formed in 2017 and this year opened a U.S. base in the Silicon Beach area of Los Angeles.

In the startup phase of the partnership, Enevate’s batteries will be used for premium leisure boats more than 39 feet in length.

In the scale up phase, they will be used for yachts as well as commercial and transport boats.

Sealence founder and CEO William Gobbo sees advantages for boat operators and “at the same time positive impact for the environment with less pollution both in water and in the air.”

The DeepSpeed electric propulsion system “operates silently and reduces vibration for sea craft ranging from fast tenders to large yachts,” the company says.

Production Starting

Enevate has licensed its technology to South Korea’s EnerTech, a manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries for EV makers.

“They’re going to ship production in the first quarter of next year,” for boats and e-motorcycles, Rango said.

“Getting to a production is a huge feather in our cap,” Rango says. “We’re producing batteries.”

“There’s so much demand for batteries that the market can’t ship enough of these kinds of batteries,” the Enevate exec said, noting that the Irvine-based company has other licensees that haven’t been announced yet.

New Irvine HQ

Enevate will soon be heading to new headquarters in the Irvine Spectrum that is about six times of the size of its current quarters at UCI Research Park.

The company said in February it had signed a lease for more than 125,000 square feet at 34 Parker Drive, a building near a pair of new Rivian Automotive facilities in the city, and down the street from the headquarters of another EV maker, Karma Automotive.

Enevate’s current headquarters runs some 20,000 square feet.

Rango said the building out of the new facility has been taking place, though there have been cost overruns along with delays caused by inflation and supply chain difficulties.

“We’re still hoping that within the next six months we’ll be able to expand the company,” he said.

The company currently has 78 employees, most of them in Irvine but some in Asia.

Powerful Investors

Fidelity Management and Research Co. led the company’s most recent financing round, totaling $81 million last year, bringing the amount raised for Enevate to $191 million to date.

Other investors include a mix of foreign and domestic backers, such as Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi (Alliance Ventures), LG Chem, Samsung Venture Investment Corp., Fidelity Management & Research Co., Mission Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Tsing Capital, Infinite Potential Technologies, Presidio Ventures – a Sumitomo Corp. company, Lenovo, CEC Capital, and Bangchak.

Enevate was advertising for six positions, including program manager and senior staff scientists, on its website as of Oct. 23.

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Kevin Costelloe
Kevin Costelloe
Tech reporter at Orange County Business Journal
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