The Tesla Effect: Snowmobiles, boats and lawn mowers become electric

However, Mercury has unveiled an electric outboard motor prototype and is closely watching the move to electrification.

“We intend to be a leader in this space,” said Foulkes, who drives a battery-powered motor Porsche. “Even though the market is small at the moment, we want to be there and see what the market does.”

Some engineers are taking advantage of the shift to electrification to rethink the design. An offshore racing series known as E1which plans to start hosting events in Miami and other cities next year, will use battery-powered boats equipped with hydrofoils that will lift the hulls above the water, greatly reducing drag.

“We have to change the paradigm,” said Rodi Basso, CEO of E1. “This is what Tesla did.”

Just as Tesla disrupted the auto industry, start-ups are challenging the companies that have long dominated their markets. Sea Stream is one of several companies trying to adapt electric power for jet skis. With the help of $ 15 million in venture capital, it plans to begin selling electric outboard motors made at a facility in Bristol, RI, this summer.

Ben Sorkin, the CEO of Flux Marine, who was a summer intern at Tesla, admitted that battery power was not practical for large deep-sea fishing boats and the like. “Given what is available right now, electric propulsion is a niche market,” Sorkin said.

But he said the market would expand as batteries improved and became practical for bigger and bigger motors. Flux Marine’s largest engine is rated at 70 horsepower and the numbers will continue to grow, Sorkin said.