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GM backs electric boat startup in $150 million deal

GM backs electric boat startup in $150 million deal


The automaker is looking to make waves in a new segment

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Image: Pure Watercraft

General Motors has taken a 25 percent stake in Pure Watercraft, a Seattle-based startup that makes electric outboard motors and batteries for boats, CNBC reports.

The deal is worth $150 million, though that’s split between cash and payment-in-kind contributions from GM. The two companies didn’t tell CNBC what that split will look like, but GM “will become a supplier of components to Pure Watercraft, a co-developer of new products, and will provide engineering, design and manufacturing expertise to help [Pure Watercraft] establish new factories,” according to the report.

GM struck a similar deal — though half the size — with Lordstown Motors in 2020 as part of that electric pickup truck startup’s merger with a special purpose acquisition company. (A good chunk of the value attributed to the deal was the factory GM sold to Lordstown Motors, which is now being bought by Foxconn as part of the Taiwanese electronics giant’s push into EVs.) The automaker also once had a deal in place to receive $2 billion of stock in hydrogen-electric trucking startup Nikola in exchange for access to parts, components, and some manufacturing. But that deal fell apart after Nikola was accused of fraud in September 2020.

GM has made far less rocky bets outside of the EV space. It bought self-driving startup Cruise in 2016, and backed an MIT spinoff focused on batteries in 2015. As CNBC points out, CEO Mary Barra telegraphed that the company was looking into watercraft in an October blog post:

We are delivering hardware platforms that will help put everybody in an electric vehicle – even beyond our own vehicles. 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.

Pure Watercraft is one of a number of startups trying to electrify boating, though it’s one that’s been chipping away at the idea for 10 years. It sells outboard motors and water-tight battery packs, and also collaborates with a number of boat makers to sell ready-to-go electric boats in different shapes and sizes.