While the term ‘jet ski’ has been around for over 50 years, it’s actually a registered trademark of Kawasaki, who released the first commercially available jet ski in 1972. Technically known as personal watercraft (PWC), the offering from Kawasaki was the only successful one on the market for almost 16 years. Since then, jet skis have come a long way, and there’s a plethora of options available for the modern buyer, including electric jet skis.
In recent years, they have become a reality, and are increasingly popular for a variety of reasons. While these are premium-priced products, much like their car counterparts, they’re set to take the jet ski world by storm. Here, we’re going to break down what electric jet skis are all about and what the best choices are today. Join us!
Electric Jet Skis: Overview
Jet skis are generally available in either ‘sit down’ or ‘stand up’ styles, where, as you could guess, the user operates the jet ski sitting down or standing up. While sit-down jet skis can hold two or more passengers, stand-up jet skis are operated by only one user. They are commonly used for competitive use, as well as performing tricks and in races.
Jet skis are usually used for recreational purposes, and run on an engine that powers a pump jet with an impeller for propulsion through the water. Traditionally they are powered by gas, but electric jet skis, on the other hand, are powered by… yes, electricity! Still, they’re definitely not for the casual buyer, since they come at a premium price. But if you’re in the market for one, then you probably know this.
When considering an electric jet ski, there are certain parameters you should be aware of.
While many people think electric jet skis will inevitably be slower than their gas-powered counterparts, this is not necessarily the case. They actually have much more torque than those running on petrol. For example, Taiga’s offering, the Orca, can reach max speeds of 65mph.
Most jet skis have a speed range of around 40 to 70 mph, with entry-level models towards the lower end and higher-end models reaching greater speeds. However, typical speeds are generally around the 50mph mark. While you can perform upgrades to lift the speed restriction, the US coastguard actually caps jet ski speed at 70mph by law.
Therefore, this is a very competitive max speed from the Orca, and currently unmatched – by comparison, the GT95 Electrojet from Narke only has a reported top speed of 43mph. But Narke has, temporarily at least, paused production on this watercraft.
Usually, an average jet ski can travel somewhere between 60 to 120 miles on a full tank of gas, using around 3 to 4 gallons of gas per hour. In the case of electric jet skis, the possible distance is relatively lower, with the Orca coming in at around 30 miles of max distance when being driven enthusiastically around top speeds.
Still, since the experience of speed typically feels greater on a jet ski than on an on-the-road vehicle, these speeds are usually more than sufficient for first-time and accustomed buyers alike.
It should come as no surprise that electric jet skis come at a high cost. New jet skis can be priced anywhere in the range of $5,000 to around $20,000 depending on the model. Stand-up jet skis are generally cheaper than sit-down ones. But, as previously mentioned, they only have the capacity for one person.
Electric jet skis can be significantly more expensive – the Electrojet demands a mammoth $47,000, although those from Taiga are more affordable. There are three options on sale: the more economical Orca Sport (around $15,000), the Orca Performance ($17,500), and the Orca Carbon ($24,000). Concerning cost, it’s a much smarter choice to go with a Taiga jet ski.
Charging Time and Battery Life
Battery life is a key factor when purchasing an electric jet ski as, unsurprisingly, they can only run as long as their battery has power. Fortunately, most electric jet skis are very efficient in this regard.
While the Electrojet offers up to 2 hours runtime on a 1.5-hour fast charge, Taiga beats out the competition with their three products sharing the same outstanding charge times, reaching 80% capacity with a fast charge of 20 minutes. From a level 2 EV charger, like the one you may have at home, the Orca models charge in around 3.5 hours and about 14 hours from a standard outlet.
Practically, this is still effective, as you’re likely to leave the vehicle charging overnight once you’re finished using it for the day. Taiga’s Orcas provide a competitive runtime, around the same as the Electrojet from Narke.
As previously discussed, electric models don’t compromise on performance whatsoever, matching and even outperforming many petrol-powered jet skis. This is surely a big benefit, especially if you’re looking for a jet ski with max performance capabilities.
One of the biggest bonuses that come with electric jet skis is undoubtedly their lower emissions. While many electric jet skis are touted as having ‘zero emissions’, this is sadly not the case in reality. Manufacturing obviously requires raw materials, and energy usage, while running them requires electricity production (which is still mainly from natural gas and coal).
These all produce a significant amount of pollution. Adding to this, eventually, the battery will need to be replaced, compounding the environmental impact. Once you’ve also considered maintenance, such as cleaning and towing the vehicle, it’s easy to say that electric jet skis just aren’t as close to zero emissions as they appear.
However, the impact on the environment is still lower than regular models, so if being eco-friendly is important to you, an electric model is still the better choice.
Minimal Noise Pollution
While jet ski owners typically love their purchase, it’s no secret that, while they’re awfully fun, they can be awfully loud, too. The noise only increases when performing tricks, hitting max speeds, and jumping out of the water, and it’s a common complaint among riders.
Even if this isn’t particularly bothersome, you can be sure that anybody else around you probably finds it rather annoying! Luckily, electric jet skis are superior in this regard.
While not completely silent, they are dramatically quieter in comparison to traditional models. This is perfect for a more peaceful and enjoyable experience for you and others around you.
Less Maintenance, Less Danger
Apart from reckless use, traditional jet skis are inherently more of a danger due to the use of gas. On the off chance that gas accumulates in the hull, jet skis have even been known to explode. Fortunately, this is much less of a risk with battery-powered jet skis.
Maintenance is a part of life when owning a jet ski, and even more so with petrol-powered versions; if only to ensure the safest ride possible. It would indeed be easier to take a regular jet ski in for maintenance as they’re currently much more mainstream, but this is likely to change shortly as electric jet skis are adopted more widely.
Because they run on a battery and lack exhausts and intercoolers, there’s a lot less maintenance to be done when any problems do arise. This, combined with the fact they run on electricity, leads to a lower cost of ownership compared to gas-powered jet skis.
Taiga Orca: The First Electric Jet Ski on the Market
Aside from Narke’s GT95 Electrojet, the Taiga Orca electric jet skis are pretty much the only other option available right now for purchase. Being the first to be released, they’ve certainly made a name for themselves.
Having a top speed of 65mph, the Orca models are, without a doubt, the fastest electric jet skis on the market. Horsepower ranges from 120 for the most economical Sport model, to 180 HP for the higher-end Performance and Carbon models. Comparatively, non-supercharged traditional models reach between 60 to 180 HP, so the Orca skis are competitive in this regard.
Concerning weight, the Orca models come in slightly heavier than their counterparts at around 740 lbs. Gas-powered skis generally sit at around 500 to 700 lbs. You likely won’t notice the extra weight, however, as the Orca range is renowned for being agile and nimble.
As well as being available in three models, there are also three operating modes to use with the Orca – ‘Range,’ ‘Sport,’ and ‘Wild.’ The range provides around 50 HP, remarkably cutting down on power, while the Sport and Wild modes both deliver incremental increases in power.
You’re not likely to reach full horsepower with the Wild mode due to safety constraints, but it will definitely feel more than enough when you’re hitting the water. Another bonus of the Orca range is the digital dashboard.
This high-resolution dashboard provides Bluetooth connectivity, GPS speed, and mapping, as well as configurable power and acceleration modes. In terms of a uniquely customized user experience, this is an unparalleled feature.
Electric or Gas: Which Should I Choose?
Ultimately, your purchasing decision rests on your individual needs and budget. In an ideal world, we’d simply purchase the best possible jet ski with minimal maintenance. As you can tell by now, this isn’t really the case.
But in terms of overall usability, affordability, and experience, electric jet skis are pulling ahead in the race. Maintenance is a lot simpler and costs are a lot lower long-term. What’s more, a simple charge after a couple of hours of fun is easier to manage than lugging gas canisters down to the water.
And as far as performance goes, the jet skis from Orca are as competitive as they come, delivering just as much of a thrilling experience as you might be after from a petrol-powered model.
Electric Jet Skis: Upcoming Models
Even if Taiga’s Orca models currently dominate the market, there are some exciting developments on the horizon in the electric jet ski industry. Read on to find out what we know so far.
WAV by Nikola
Designed like a sports bike, the WAV (or Water Adventure Vehicle) is basically intended for performing impressive tricks. A 4K, 12-inch display is included and may give similar functionality to the Orca. There are also LED lights to improve visibility whilst traveling on the water.
Although Nikola first announced the WAV in 2019 and was geared up for a 2020 launch, it was revealed in 2021 that Nikola has currently paused development on this project, deciding to focus its efforts on producing its first hydrogen-powered truck. They still own the rights to the WAV, but it’s currently unknown if and when they will resume working on this jet ski.
Sea-Doo has been in the watercraft game since the 60s but is set to make its stake in the electric vehicle arena in 2024, with the release of its Sea-Doo Rise. While technically a hydrofoil board and not a jet ski, the Rise is intended for a variety of poses: standing up, on your knees, or even lying down. Cruising speed can be controlled with a remote and charging is reportedly easy.
Stealth by DiMora
The Stealth series of electric jet skis is now being developed by DiMora Eco Watercraft. As far as we know, the Stealth models will feature a rear camera and a dashboard display, GPS, LEDs, an entertainment system, and even solar panels, but pricing and availability are completely unknown at this time. DiMora will likely release more information in the near future.
WaveFlyer by Electro Nautic
Another jet ski with an unknown release date, this offering from Electro Nautic is exciting for many reasons. Firstly, there will be 3 operating modes: Cruise mode, Performance mode, and Shallow Water mode.
As you can guess, these are for smooth cruising, high-performance thrills, and maneuvering through shallow waters. Not only that, the WaveFlyer is designed to be easy to beach, something that is rare with conventional jet skis. The twin-electric propulsion system is set to provide total control and agility at various speeds.
Kawasaki and Yamaha
No official plans for electric models have been released by either Kawasaki or Yamaha as of yet. However, as producers of some of the absolute best gas-powered skis on the market, it would be surprising if they didn’t intend to release some electric models in the future.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©YanLev/Shutterstock.com.