GM acquires 25% stake in Seattle’s Pure Watercraft to accelerate future of electric powerboating

A Pure Watercraft electric motor on the back of a boat. (Pure Watercraft Photo)

A Seattle startup with a vision for electric powerboating is joining forces with a legacy automaker that is shifting its own gears toward sustainability in a deal announced Monday.

General Motors has acquired a 25% stake in Pure Watercraft, a company that has been working on all-electric boating solutions for 10 years. The cash and payment-in-kind stake is costing GM $150 million, and raises Pure Watercraft’s valuation to $600 million.

The collaboration is aimed at extending GM’s drive toward a zero-emissions future that goes beyond just cars and trucks.

“Building upon GM’s existing efforts to strategically deploy our technology across rail, truck and aerospace industries, the combined expertise of these two enterprises should result in future zero-emissions marine product offerings, providing consumers with more choice than before,” Dan Nicholson, GM’s vice president of Global Electrification, Controls, Software & Electronics, said in a news release.

Pure Watercraft’s signature, industry-disrupting product is the Pure Outboard motor, a battery-powered engine that is quieter and more environmentally friendly than traditional gas-powered outboard motors. Pairing with GM will allow the startup to marry its innovation in marine propulsion technology and experience with the automaker’s engineering, supply chain and manufacturing capabilities.

The Pure Outboard electric motor. (Pure Watercraft Photo)

The two companies plan to develop and commercialize battery electric watercraft, integrating GM technology into a variety of applications and accelerate boating’s transition to electric mobility, the companies said Monday.

“Our mission is to enable a new era in boating,” Rebele said in a statement. “This joint effort with GM is expected to enable us to make significant technological advancements in range and charging, while achieving volume production.”

Pure Watercraft has raised $37 million to date, including a $23.4 million Series A round in September 2020. Former Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke is among investors.

The startup has operated from a headquarters facility on Lake Union in Seattle and Rebele said they have leased a production facility in Tukwila, Wash. The company employs 55 people, which includes some full-time contractors.

Over the next few years, GM is investing $35 billion in electric and autonomous vehicle technology — including work to improve performance and reduce battery costs — in an effort to become a leader in EVs in North America. The company is building a fully dedicated EV assembly plant in Detroit called Factory ZERO.

The companies were not yet disclosing what product offerings will come from the collaboration. In addition to its motor, Pure Watercraft is currently selling complete boat packages.

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Startups Andy rebele Electric propulsion General motors Pure watercraft