At the recent South Coast Boat Show, MBY editor Hugo Andreae took a test drive of the RS Pulse 63, the first electric RIB we've been aboard...
The RS Pulse 63’s standard 400V 47kW lithium-ion Hyperdrive power pack provides short-blast top speeds of up to 20 knots.
However, at a 20-knot fast-cruise it should run for two and a half hours for a range of 50nm. Slow things down to 12 knots and the range extends to eight hours or 110nm.
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An additional 23kWh power pack is also available for increased range, although the extra weight will impact its speed.
The RS Pulse 63’s all-new hull comes from Isle of Wight-based designer Jo Richards, who has been responsible for most of RS’s sailing dinghies, but the styling comes from superyacht studio Design Unlimited.
RS Sailing is one of the world’s most successful makers of performance sailing dinghies, building around 2,500 a year, so its move into electric boats comes with real intent.
There are similarities between high-performance sailboats and RIBs, says RS director Jon Partridge: “Both need ultra-efficient running surfaces that can manage the transition between displacement and planing modes smoothly.
“Too much displacement is inefficient for high speeds and too little displacement is inefficient at slow speeds. Planing conventionally is about pushing, pushing, pushing until the hull breaks over the hump. Our latest dinghies and the RS Pulse 63 just go faster, faster and faster.”
The RS Pulse 63 has an LOA of 6.3m and comes with an infused hull and a choice of PVC or Hypalon tubes. Deck layouts are modular, but the standard package includes a centre-console and a single front seat. Prices begin at £74,000 (ex. VAT).
The latest 25kW fast charger will deliver a full charge in two hours but there is an even faster 75kW option that can reduce that to just 30 minutes. Getting chargers into marinas and yacht clubs is the biggest hurdle for electric boats to overcome.
“Our initial target is 50 boats a year,” says Jon Partridge, “but we should be able to double that very quickly and double it again as demand ramps up.”
Technology presently limits how small electric RIBs can be. Partridge believes that for now 6m or bigger will develop faster and sooner. The big trade-offs are waterline length and weight.
“Alas two-thirds of the length doesn’t equate to two-thirds of the weight,” he says. Waterline lengths below 6m are not efficient enough to bear the weight of current battery technology.
RS Pulse 63 specifications
LOA: 20ft 8in / 6.30m
Beam: 7ft 7in / 2.3m
Displacement: 610kg / 1,345lbs
Power: 47KW electric motor
Top speed: 20 knots
Range: 50nm @ 20 knots / 110nm @ 12 knots
Starting price: £74,000 (ex. VAT)