EqualOcean recently had an insightful conversation with Mr. Tao Shizheng, the visionary founder of ePropulsion (Chinese: 逸动科技), we embarked on a journey to understand the essence of the company's profound impact on the electric marine propulsion industry.
Established in 2012 at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, ePropulsion has dedicated itself to pushing the boundaries of electric marine propulsion systems and related solutions, with a clear mission to revolutionize marine power systems and promote environmental sustainability.
Innovating with a Purpose: Leading in Technological Innovation
ePropulsion's prominence in the electric boating industry is firmly rooted in its commitment to technological innovation. Since its establishment in 2012, the company has dedicated over 20% of its revenue to research and development. This unwavering focus has resulted in a substantial portfolio of patents, exceeding 200 granted patents and over 400 patent applications.
Notably, ePropulsion was the pioneer in introducing direct-drive brushless technology and Field-Oriented Control (FOC) technology to the electric marine propulsion market, setting new industry standards. Additionally, ePropulsion has taken the lead in venturing into the fields of marine connectivity (Chinese: 船联网) and ADAS (Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems) intelligence. These innovations position ePropulsion's as a trailblazer in shaping the industry's technological landscape.
Furthermore, the company has cultivated a comprehensive product range, including electric outboard motors, pod drives, inboard motors, marine lithium batteries, and control systems. ePropulsion's products are recognized for their outstanding performance and quality, offering energy efficiency improvements of up to 50% compared to competitors' products, which typically achieve only 30% to 40% energy efficiency. Gasoline outboard motors, in contrast, often achieve just around 20% energy efficiency.
To complement its technological achievements and product excellence, ePropulsion has established a mature global service system. The company offers complete OEM customization solutions, integrating batteries, motors, controls, navigation systems, and more to meet a wide range of customer demands. This approach allows users to seamlessly transition to electric propulsion, ensuring a "plug-and-use (接船即用)" experience.
Going Global: Expanding Horizons
ePropulsion's global expansion strategy has been instrumental in its journey to becoming a global leader. Currently operating in over 60 countries, ePropulsion boasts an extensive network of more than 40 agents and 400 distributors worldwide. Their comprehensive product range includes electric outboard motors, pod drives, inboard motors, lithium batteries, and control systems, designed to cater to the diverse demands of consumers worldwide.
Given their robust economies and strong nautical cultures, Mr. Tao expressed optimism about ePropulsion's prospects in Europe and North America. He highlighted the pivotal role these regions play in the marine electrification sector, shaping the brand's global presence.
Shaping Consumer Perceptions: Sustainability as the Key Driver
One of the significant accomplishments of ePropulsion is its success in shaping consumer perceptions. Tao emphasized the company's commitment to environmental sustainability. Their electric marine propulsion systems offer cleaner, quieter, and more user-friendly alternatives to traditional combustion engines. This appeal, combined with the rising global environmental consciousness, has resonated deeply with consumers.
Tao revealed that ePropulsion's consumer base abroad mainly consists of middle-class males, while business clients, such as shipyards, seek specialized and customized solutions, reflecting the brand's ability to cater to a diverse clientele.
Navigating B2B Expansion: Adapting to Evolving Demands
While ePropulsion primarily caters to the B2C market, accounting for over 80% of total revenue, the company is acutely aware of the evolving landscape of the B2B sector. Mr. Tao acknowledged the growing diversification and personalization of B2B demands. He noted that ePropulsion, with its extensive experience and capabilities, is well-equipped to meet these demands. The company offers comprehensive OEM solutions, encompassing batteries, motors, controls, navigation systems, and more, to cater to various requirements, including the conversion of oil-powered vessels to electrification and the creation of new electric vessels.
Focusing on Technological Advancements: The Future Unfolds
Mr. Tao elaborated on the company's technological focus, mentioning their ongoing commitment to battery technology and innovations in energy storage. While electric boat range remains constrained by battery energy density and vessel space limitations, Tao believes that advancements in battery and new energy technologies hold the potential to unlock further possibilities for the marine industry.
He pointed to ePropulsion's dedication to creating customizable battery solutions and energy management systems as a testament to their forward-thinking approach. These innovations are set to reshape the future of electric boating.
Customer-Centric Approach: Listening to the Voice of the Market
Tao discussed ePropulsion's customer-centric approach, highlighting the importance of market research and customer feedback. The company actively gathers insights from customers through global exhibitions, local dealer networks, and OEM projects. This feedback-driven approach enables ePropulsion to stay agile in adapting to market and user demands, using their robust research and development infrastructure and forward-looking technology initiatives.
Industry at a Turning Point: Paving the Way for Electrification
In terms of industry trends, Tao noted that the global electrification penetration in the marine sector currently stands at around 3%, indicating significant room for growth. He highlighted the role of developed regions like Europe and North America in driving marine electrification. Despite the challenges, Tao anticipates that within the next five to ten years, electric boats will enter a period of widespread adoption, starting with smaller, low-power vessels and gradually expanding to larger, high-power, long-range applications.
Building the Brand: A Journey of Recognition
In closing, Tao discussed ePropulsion's brand-building journey. He acknowledged the initial challenges of establishing the brand in a market dominated by established international players. However, ePropulsion's strategy of positioning itself as a global brand, backed by leading technology, outstanding product performance, and a robust service network, has been instrumental in earning global recognition. The company's active participation in international events and sponsorship of prestigious competitions like SailGP and Monaco's Clean Energy Challenge have significantly increased brand recognition, solidifying ePropulsion's position as an industry leader.
Anticipating Market Trends: A Collaborative Future
In conclusion, Tao reiterated his optimism for the industry's future. He pointed out that while there has been significant change in the electric boat industry in recent years, including the entry of new players and the transition of traditional combustion engine manufacturers to electric, this competition is beneficial. It drives innovation, improves user experiences, refines regulatory policies, and enhances infrastructure. Tao looks forward to a collaborative future that combines technological advancement with sustainable growth, steering the marine industry toward a greener, more sustainable world.
In this comprehensive exploration, we've delved deep into the journey, insights, and contributions of ePropulsion to the electric marine propulsion industry, highlighting the brand's commitment to a sustainable future on the water.