St. Petersburg, Florida is known as a boater’s paradise (and of course, the epicenter of EV journalism), so John Vo, the former Global Head of Manufacturing at Tesla, saw it as the perfect site for his new electric boat company, Blue Innovations Group (BIG).
Only about a year after setting up shop in the suburb of Pinellas Park, the company unveiled its flagship product, the R30, a 30-foot electric cabin cruiser. Bad weather delayed a planned demonstration at the St. Petersburg Pier, but production plans remain on schedule.
“The one thing in startups that I learned over the years is that everything changes except for the schedule” Vo told the St. Pete Catalyst. “You change the schedule, you’re dead.”
Customers can now reserve an R30 for a minimum deposit of $1,000, and deliveries are to begin in Q3 2024.
The R30 has an aluminum hull, a 221 kWh battery pack, dual inboard motors with 800 hp total power, and a 2.7 kW solar canopy. BIG says its Blue Fast Charger can fully charge the R30’s battery pack in about 45 minutes. The cruiser boasts a maximum speed of 45 mph, and nominal runtime of up to 8 hours, or a range of about 100 miles (an offshore model offering a 200-mile range is planned).
“The R30 was designed from scratch. We threw out the playbook most boatbuilders follow because if you squint your eyes at a boat show, most boats look the same,” said Vo. “The R in R30 stands for Revolution, we decided to offer something radically different, radically better.”
“I look at it from the boat owner’s point of view,” Vo said, channeling his tenure at Tesla. “Why do you want to buy a boat? What do you want to do with the boat? Then I use physics and science to answer that question.”
The R30 is a luxury craft, featuring a half-walk-around deck plan, a head (with a bidet!), a kitchenette (galleyette?) and an infotainment system with satellite and WiFi connectivity and over-the-air updates, and it has a luxury price—around $300,000. Vo pointed out that the purchase price is comparable to that of similar-sized luxury gas-powered boats, before considering the R30’s reduced fuel and maintenance costs.
BIG is currently manually assembling the R30, but will soon start to automate welding and fabrication processes. The initial goal is to produce about 500 R30s annually. Vo’s ultimate goal is to build a boat every 30 minutes. “When we first started out with the Tesla factory, it took us like four weeks to finish a car,” Vo told the Catalyst. “But right now, they do one every 55 seconds. If I can make a car in less than a minute, I can definitely make a boat in less than 30 minutes.”