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GM invests in outboard motor startup to make all-electric boating

GM said Monday it has acquired a 25% ownership stake by investing $150 million into Pure Watercraft, which now values Pure Watercraft at $600 million, said GM spokesman Mark Lubin.

General Motors headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit on Jan. 11, 2021, showing the updated logo representing the company's electric future. Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press/TNS

DETROIT -- General Motors is looking to take its zero emissions strategy offshore ... literally.

GM said Monday it has acquired a 25% ownership stake by investing $150 million into Pure Watercraft, which now values Pure Watercraft at $600 million, said GM spokesman Mark Lubin. That deal is made up of "in kind commitments and capital." GM is not disclosing how that is spilt up at this time, he said.

GM and Pure Watercraft, a start-up based in Seattle that makes all-electric motors for boats of all different kinds, share a stated goal to expand zero-emissions mobility and promote EV adoption beyond cars.

The two companies will develop and commercialize battery-electric watercraft, using GM's technology in a variety of boating uses to accelerate the industry's transition to all-electric.

"Building upon GM's existing efforts to strategically deploy our technology across rail, truck and aerospace industries, the combined expertise of these two enterprises should result in future zero-emissions marine product offerings, providing consumers with more choice than before," Dan Nicholson, GM vice president of Global Electrification, Controls, Software and Electronics, said in a statement.


The deal also could be lucrative. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the sales of outboard engines in the U.S. hit an all-time high last year at $3.4 billion, CNBC reported. That's nine years of consecutive sales growth.

GM has said it will invest $35 billion through 2025 in developing EVs and self-driving cars. In October, GM told investors it was transforming the company to be a software and technology company that expands offerings beyond autos. In a blog in October, CEO Mary Barra hinted at using GM technology for watercraft.

"We are delivering hardware platforms that will help put everybody in an electric vehicle - even beyond our own vehicles," Barra wrote. "Our Ultium battery platform and HYDROTEC fuel cell platform give us the potential to make planes, trains, automobiles and even boats into zero-emission products."

In June, GM said it could collaborate with Wabtec Corporation to engineer and supply GM's Ultium battery technology and its Hydrotec hydrogen fuel cell system to power locomotives. Wabtec provides equipment and other services to the freight and rail industry.

Also in June, GM said it was partnering with Liebherr-Aerospace, an on-board aircraft system supplier, to develop ways to use hydrogen fuel cell power generation on an aircraft.

Pure Watercraft said its outboard motors boosts a boat's performance while reducing pollution and providing a lower operating cost and maintenance than traditional marine propulsion systems.

"Our mission is to enable a new era in boating," said Andy Rebele, founder and CEO of Pure Watercraft. "This joint effort with GM is expected to enable us to make significant technological advancements in range and charging, while achieving volume production."

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