GM explores electric boats, buys 25% stake in Seattle engine maker

DETROIT — General Motors is testing the waters in electric boating by buying a 25% stake in a Seattle company that makes battery-powered outboard motors.

The Detroit automaker said on Monday it bought the stake in Pure Watercraft for a company it says will develop and market battery-electric personal watercraft.

Pure Watercraft, founded in 2011, is worth $600 million after the GM deal, spokesman Gabe Johnson said. GM said its investment was $150 million, including cash and in-kind contributions. The companies would not disclose the amount of money GM is investing in the deal.

The private company Pure Watercraft manufactures an electric outboard propulsion system powered by a lithium-ion battery. It is designed to replace any boat with a 25 to 50 horsepower gasoline outboard motor. The company also works with boat builders to sell complete boats, according to its website.

The two companies will combine Pure Watercraft’s marine experience with GM’s engineering, supply chain and manufacturing capabilities, the automaker said in a statement.

“This joint effort with GM should allow us to make significant technology advancements in range and charging, while achieving volume production,” said Andy Rebele, Founder and CEO of Pure Watercraft.

The deal gives GM the ability to use its electric technology in another industry beyond automobiles, said Dan Nicholson, vice president of global electrification. “The combined expertise of these two companies should translate into future zero-emissions marine product offerings,” Nicholson said.

GM is already working on electrification and hydrogen vehicles in the rail, road and aerospace sectors.

Earnest A. Martinez