Walking down the dock to test the new Taiga Orca Carbon, at first glance I noted that it did not look much different in size and shape than the typical Sea-Doo or Yamaha PWC. The first clue that operating the Taiga Orca Carbon would be different was the power cord. I didn’t just have to untie it to leave the dock; I also had to unplug it.
Built by Taiga, a company that pioneered electric snowmobiles, the Orca Carbon is the first recreational electric PWC available in North America. It runs on a lithium-ion battery system that powers a direct-drive pump and impeller capable of producing 160 hp.
In shape and weight, the Orca Carbon compares to gas-powered PWC of the same dimensions. As I idled away from the dock, though, I noted the second clue that I was experiencing something different. The Orca Carbon proved remarkably responsive at idle speeds, with none of the lag time or wandering associated with gas-powered PWC. The reason is the direct-drive propulsion. Touching the throttle instantly powers the boat, and there’s no transmission to cycle through, so the transition between the stages is smoother. Operation is simple: To go forward, squeeze the throttle on the right handlebar; squeeze the left for reverse. Don’t squeeze either and you’re in neutral.
When you hit the throttle, it quickly accelerates and is capable of hitting speeds up to 65 mph. Fully charged, it can run for around two hours, with up to a 28-mile range before it needs recharging. For comparison, a similarly powered gasoline PWC would have a two- to three-hour run time and a 50-plus mile range. Still, if you’re looking to joyride on your local lake and have all the fun expected on a PWC, the Orca Carbon delivers. It features three modes of operation: Range for cruising, Sport for carving turns and playing in wakes, and Wild for a flat-out speed run. Monitor your speed, mode and charge on the 7-inch HD display.
The Orca Carbon, which features a carbon-fiber composite hull, is on the premium end of PWC pricing. But Taiga also sells a Sport model with a plastic hull for $17,490 and a Performance model for $19,490.
Read Next: Electric Boats and Avoiding Range Anxiety
How We Tested
- Engine: 120 kW (160 hp) lithium-ion battery system
- Pump/Impeller: Direct-drive jet pump
- Fuel Load: Full charge Crew Weight: 180 lb.
- Lack of gears makes it responsive and smooth at low and idle speeds, with no lag time or steering wander.
- Silent to operate and run; the only sound at high speeds is wind noise.
- Super simple to operate, with just forward and reverse throttles on opposite handlebars.
- Can be charged by a regular power outlet on the dock or in your garage, or by a universal Level 2 connector for most EV trucks and cars.
- Range is low compared to comparable gas-powered PWC.
- Level 1 (basic home outlet) charging can take up to 14 hours.
- Pricing is more expensive compared to gas-powered PWC.
There are currently no other available electric PWC on the market, but the gas-powered Sea-Doo GTX Limited starts at $18,899, and the Yamaha FX SVHO sells for a similar price.
Pricing and Specs
|Seat/Weight Capacity:||2/342 lb.|
|Stowage Capacity:||10.5 gal.|
Speed, Efficiency, Operation
Taiga Motors – LaSalle, Quebec; 877-778-2442; taigamotors.com