Porsche is offering a taste of the performance of its future electric car, the Macan, by installing its 100 kWh battery and 400 kW motor in an elegant sports boat built by the Austrian shipyard Frauscher. Or how to stylishly reinvent the classic motorboat with the technology of the future. Here is the eFantom (Porsche 850 Fantom Air) that we had the chance to test.
Since its appearance in the Porsche catalog ten years ago, the Macan mid-size SUV has become the brand’s best-seller, with an average of 85,000 units sold each year, neck and neck with the Cayenne, but far ahead the 35,000 copies of the iconic Porsche 911. The Macan constitutes an essential source of income for the manufacturer, its transformation into a 100% electric version therefore marks a serious change of gear for Porsche whose full-electric offer is limited for the ‘moment to the Taycan alone.
With its power oscillating between 300 kW (408 hp) and 560 kW (761 hp), this fantastic Zero Emission sedan has been competing head-on with the Tesla Model S since 2019 with its 40,000 units sold per year. To support the Taycan and face the Tesla Model Y SUV, the future eMacan (which we have already seen several times) will offer a huge battery with a capacity of 100 kWh (compared to 93 kWh for the Taycan) and a new engine which should peak at 450 kW of power, or 611 hp.
This new electric car should make its first public appearance in spring 2024 and will be based on the new 800-volt PPE (Premium Platform Electric) platform shared with the Audi brand.
An electric boat as powerful as a Porsche Macan
“While waiting for the car to be presented, the idea of installing these essential parts of the future eMacan in a boat seemed interesting to us.” explains Porsche spokesperson Ben Weinberger. “We already design electric bikes, sunglasses and rolling suitcases, with our subsidiary Porsche Design, so why not offer a high-performance and ultra-chic electric boat with our cutting-edge technology?”
The manufacturer therefore approached the Austrian specialist in elegant and luxurious sports boats: the Frauscher shipyard. This family business created in 1927 managed by the 3rd generation, the brothers Michael and Stefan Frauscher, offers two important advantages.
First the Frauschers have been producing electric motor canoes since 1955 adapted to the constraints of the Austrian lakes which prohibit gasoline engines in spring and summer – in order to avoid noise pollution during the tourist season, but above all the Frauschers have been able to create since the beginning of the 2000s a line of elegant and stylish motorboats, in line with the Italian Rivas from the 1960s to the 1990s. For the record, the Riva Aquarama (1962-1996) was Brigitte Bardot’s official varnished wooden speed boat, moored at the Madrague pontoon, her house in St Tropez.
It is therefore the Frauscher shipyard which is today taking up the torch of the chic motorboat with a range of high-performance boats spearheaded by the Fantom range: an 8.6 m long day boat intended for outings at the day for 9 people. With its chrome steel fittings, its raw wood floor, its marinated leather upholstery, the Fantom Air 858 was the ideal candidate to accommodate the new Porsche electric engine in place of the 8.2 L Mercruiser V8 engine delivering 425 hp.
A boat (almost) tailor-made for Porsche
To transplant the technical organs of the eMacan into the boat, the engineers had to make some adaptations, in particular to fit to the bottom of the hull. the 100 kWh accumulator and its 580 kg. “We first had to find a system to cushion the battery when the boat sails in choppy water.” explains engineer Philip Ruckert, “we imagined a very simple spiral spring system all around the cradle to absorb shocks”.
Attaching the electric motor did not pose a problem, with its maximum power 400 kW (543 hp), a little less than the eMacan motor to better match the maximum speed of the propeller. On the other hand, the entire electronic management of the motor and battery had to be reworked, because the constraints of using a car are not at all the same on a boat. A simple example: to charge a car battery, the parking brake must be engaged, but on a boat there is no parking brake…
All this engineering work remains completely imperceptible if you are not warned because the ergonomics and deck plan of the boat are strictly the same. The two sun loungers at the rear, the refrigerated drawer for bottles of rosé or the removable table in the front saloon, everything is the same. Only the cockpit console and the two seats change a little, having been retouched by the Porsche-Design studio.
A Porsche logo is engraved on the leather of the headrest and behind the steering wheel, we find the 5 round dials in homage to the 5 traditional counters of the 911 with the rev counter in the middle graduated up to 7000 rpm. Next to the steering wheel, in the center of the console is the brushed aluminum throttle and to the far right of the console, a large screen serves as a GPS screen during navigation and a control panel for charging the battery and different temperature sensors. In fact, to simplify the marinization of the electric motor, two cooling circuits were installed: a current of fresh water around the generator, itself cooled by sea or lake water.
We cast off in silence
It’s time to cast off this beautiful boat with its slender design. The very light gray lacquered hull shines on the banks of Lake Garda for our test. The water is smooth, the sun is shining, the conditions are ideal. To turn on the motor, simply press the start/stop button. This switch is placed to the left of the steering wheel – like on the 911, in reference to the Le Mans type start, one hand on the ignition key the other ready to engage first gear to set off on the circuit.
Here there is no whirring or vibration, the boat glides on the water leaving the port in cottony silence. The sensation is so surprising that the passengers keep quiet to better enjoy it. Once past the dike, the hand throttle can be pushed all the way and in 6 seconds the boat planes (i.e. lifts and hovers above the water) reaching in less than a thirty seconds its maximum speed of 45 knots, or 85 km/h. At water level, it’s crazy speed. At this speed, the apparent wind blows your hair like in a convertible and makes it difficult to speak without yelling.
Frauscher and Porsche have succeeded in their bet: show that electric motorization had a real future in boating. In terms of speed, acceleration and fun on the water, the demonstration is clear. “it’s a real revolution for pleasure boating” shouts Stefan Frauscher, the co-director and sales manager of the shipyard. For the first time, a boat offers exactly the same performance as a boat with a thermal engine, in this case the large 430 hp Mercruiser V8 recorded at 48 knots max, which is barely faster.
The only downside is the original Mercruiser Z drive base which transmits the power from the electric motor to the propeller. emits an unexpected rolling noise. It must be said that this noise nuisance is usually masked by the roar of the thermal engine, so the American manufacturer has never had to worry about parasitic noise from its transmission. “We had to use this Bravo 3 base, because it was the only one that could handle the phenomenal torque of the Macan’s new electric motor.” apologizes Stephan Frauscher.
Autonomy: the downside? Oh no, the price!
There remains the question of autonomy. Porsche and Frauscher guarantee one hour of continuous navigation at 22 knots or 40 km/h. It’s not huge, but sufficient, because this pretty canoe capable of accommodating 9 people will most of the time be used to go near an island in front of a beautiful beach to picnic, relax on the sunbathing area or dive from the rear platform. If a stopover is planned in a port, it is a safe bet that it will be equipped with power points along the pontoons to recharge the boat, at least partly during lunch.
Better still, some marinas are starting to equip themselves with fast charging stations. Precisely, the new 800 volt battery of the future eMacan can be charge on a 250 kW terminal and recover 80% of its capacity in just 30 minutes. For comparison, the 430 hp V8 consumes 35 liters of super per hour at 20 knots, and 85 liters at 40 knots, which is not at all eco-friendly!
In any case, the eFantom will probably be used as a tender for a large yacht, but the generators of these floating palaces are constantly running for air conditioning and will be able to easily recharge this Frauscher x Porsche dinghy, in order to travel back and forth to the home port. and/or do water skiing tours without nauseating fumes for the skiers.
Finally and above all if this boat targets yacht owners it is because it is displayed at the attractive price of 561,700 euros i.e. the price of an apartment in Paris, and no less than €200,000 more than its thermal equivalent. Be careful though, if you are a multimillionaire and interested in this eFantom, there are currently only 25 first copies planned.