Why we invested in RAD Propulsion

The wave of electrification is coming. The automotive industry is shifting toward electric vehicles (EVs) faster than anyone envisioned only a few years ago. With increasing legislation from governments, the growing market share of electric and other zero-emission transport options is being seen as a key indicator of how effectively we are responding to the climate emergency. 

Riding the EV Wave

There is no pathway to a sustainable, net-zero future that does not include the phasing out of all fossil-fuel-powered transportation. At Vala we see zero-emission transportation replacing internal combustion engines (ICEs) over the coming decade, with new light-transportation methods that will represent a rapid change in most transport sectors, including that on the water. 

Marine EPVs (electric propelled vehicles) have many advantages for the environment, they are clean, non-polluting, and silent compared to their ICE counterparts. 

  • NO WATER POLLUTION – Research has shown just one litre of oil can pollute one million litres of water! Most of this pollution is caused by everyday oil leaks, refueling, and engine emissions.
  • NO NOISE POLLUTION – Research suggests that noisy petrol and diesel boat engines can have detrimental effects on marine wildlife. The noise can prevent fish from hearing predators, hinder navigation for partially sighted mammals and even impact breeding cycles. 

RADical opportunity: 

We are excited to announce our investment in RAD Propulsion which is developing electrical marine propulsion systems aimed at increasing the functionality and efficiency of marine motors as the industry transitions from fossil fuels to electric power. 

RAD was formed in 2018 to develop high-quality bespoke propulsion systems for all types of marine applications, from kayaks to zero-emission vessels. The company is hoping to revolutionise marine electric propulsion as the UK moves towards net zero emissions by 2050.

Their business has a mission to build the future of zero-emission vessels by being the standout brand in electric marine propulsion for boat builders, commercial operators and discerning leisure boat customers. 

The existing electrical propulsion market is already £12bn USD in revenues. And with a dead end to the diesel market, there is an enormous growth potential for an early mover advantage in a market where incumbents have traditionally been very slow to move into electrification.

Team

RAD was founded by Richard Daltry and Dan Hook who previously developed ground-breaking marine autonomous surface vessels (ASVs) – or self-driving boats – for the oil and gas, defence and oceanographic sectors. It was here they discovered that existing, on-the-market electric propulsion systems were lacking in smart, connected technologies, quality and durability.

Richard and Dan were able to bring together an experienced team of naval architects, systems engineers and automotive experts who are all passionate about the water and who have an in-depth understanding of the harsh marine environment.

World-leading technology from the banks of the Solent: 

Although a relatively new start-up, the team at Southampton-based RAD has a long history of innovating with ‘extreme’ marine equipment. With skills gleaned in autonomous vessels, advanced composites and deep-sea submersibles, the results are designs that are ruggedly built and feature advanced tech that has the ability to ‘learn’ from the motor’s performance.

The RAD ecosystem is not a single isolated product but consists of an integrated, connected and configurable suite of individual elements which are linked together to deliver superior functionality including;  

  • 100% ELECTRIC – Zero emissions, smooth operation, and no refuelling. Combined with an increasing number of charging points and the growth in renewable electricity generation this offers a truly sustainable means of powering vessels.
  • QUIET: Compared to petrol and diesel engines, vessels powered by RAD have no engine noise, just water moving past the boat and the sound of nature. 
  • TOUGH: Designed to withstand the harsh marine environment, they are the most durable products in the electric propulsion marketplace. Tough by design and easy to maintain to extend the life of the motors. 
  • CONNECTED: Products are designed to exploit the latest Internet of Things (IoT) communication technologies to provide data connectivity between key elements of the system and the cloud.
    • SMART THROTTLE: The innovative throttle unit enables precise thrust control, reduced maintenance requirements, and lower running costs.
    • REAL-TIME MONITORING: Cloud based data analysis enables the electric drive to monitor itself giving optimal information on range and remaining charge.

Traction

The company has seen huge momentum since its launch, with 2 engines being market ready –  the first units are being deployed commercially towards the end of 2022. 

This includes securing agreements with key customers, including RS Electric Boats for its new Pulse 63 Electric RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) connected to a Hyperdrive battery pack.

At the other end of the scale is the RAD1, a lightweight, portable product for paddleboards and kayaks.

Additional engine formats will follow with the company pursuing both B2B and B2C channels. While research is also focusing on increasing the size of the electric propulsion units for much larger vessels as operators anticipate emissions regulations.

We’re delighted to welcome RAD Propulsion to the Vala family and look forward to supporting them through this next chapter. Be sure to watch this space for further updates on mission-driven teams building great businesses – we’re going to be backing quite a few.

Jonathon Spanos, Head of Venture Investment

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