Electric boat company makes quiet waves in Biddeford

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Matt Tarpey, co-founder and president of Maine Electric Boat Co., said he’s used to people laughing at him and his take on electric boats.

Tarpey, however, sees his future when he looks at Europe and Canada and what has been done there to advance electric boating.

“In the United States, you get some really weird looks on electric motors. Europe is the 20-year-old kingdom ahead of us, ”he told Mainebiz. “At first, I had people who laughed at us. Now I shrug my shoulders because I see this as the way the world is going. ”

Founded about three years ago, Maine Electric Boat in Biddeford sells and rents electric boats on the Saco River.

Tarpey’s company uses boats from Vision Marine Technologies of Canada, which recently began building electric vessels with the equivalent power of a 180 horsepower engine, capable of reaching speeds of 60 mph. Models of the Maine Electric Boat currently have a top speed of 45 mph.

“Ideally, over time, the cost of batteries will decrease. Currently, this is what makes the cost higher than gasoline engines. You buy a battery and you basically pay for the fuel up front for years, ”he said. “I hope the government sees fit to encourage batteries in the nautical industry,” he said.

Boats need to be charged for four hours to get eight hours of use. For the rental industry or day trippers, this is a viable option, Tarpey said.

Maine Electric Boat financed itself with loans to buy three boats and immediately sold two. These proceeds helped start the business, which is largely run by Tarpey with peripheral help from his father’s company, Rumery’s Boat Yard.

Tarpey knows there is reluctance on the part of skeptics who think electric boats are too slow, expensive, or impractical. But he is engaged.

“If that doesn’t work, I can be 100% okay with failure,” he said. “I can be proud of what I do. Many people do not yet know about electric boats.


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