BlueNav, a company specializing in hybrid electric propulsion systems for pleasure craft, is accelerating its development by moving to new premises in the Port of Arcachon. Thomas Fruin, co-founder, explains the news and marketing strategy of the company
From marine electronics to electric boats
In 2016, Thomas Fruin founded E-Nautic with his father. Located in the Arcachon Basin (southwestern France, New Aquitaine region), the company operates in the electronics and marine power industry.
“We have always been interested in technological solutions and participated in the assembly of about ten electric boats. Each time there were 2 topics.
We had to travel overseas to find an electric motor with instructions and support entirely in English, as small shipyards do not always have enough language skills.
On the other hand, there were doubts and concerns about the prospects for the issue of autonomy.
So we thought, why not build our own hybrid engines in France? This would avoid the problem of autonomy.
This is how we launched BlueNav in 2020, ”says the entrepreneur.
Transom Mounted Motors
For its engine, which is described as a hybrid, BlueNav proposes adding a separate propeller electric motor to the conventional combustion system. BlueSpin is a so-called "rim drive" system with a magnet, no shaft. Attaches to the transom rail and lifts when the boat uses a combustion engine.
“For the target range of boats and conventional battery capacities, we get speeds around 7-8 knots with a range of 5 to 7 hours,” says Thomas Fruin.
BlueNav has signed a partnership agreement with a Dutch supply company. The motors are assembled at Arcachon premises.
“Everything is tested here. We have a pool corridor to check if it is working properly, ”adds the co-founder of BlueNav.
Sales development at shipyards
In early 2021, BlueNav moved to new 700 m² premises in Arcachon, combining offices and a workshop.
The company employs about fifteen people. The order book has already been filled for the whole of 2021.
“6 engines that will run all summer will allow us to demonstrate the reliability of our engines to professionals and develop a network of dealers and installers in navigation areas suitable for the power industry.
We are entering the market with premium boats from 10 to 15 meters in length, as today this is about 10% of the price list.
We see this as the first step before switching to 100% electricity, when we have more autonomy, ”concludes Thomas Fruin.