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Affordable meets Versatile meets Reliable

by John Curnow, Global Editor, Powerboat.World 4 Jun 23:00 BST
Halevai model2050 - Affordable meets Versatile meets Reliable - seen in all the right paces © Halevai

It was a real hurdle for me. Nay, it was a complete roadblock. I simply felt like I had the most underwhelming headline. For me, this is often the peg in the wall to hang everything off. It was not helped by the fact that the boat and people in question are far, far less so. On the contrary, their drive, enthusiasm, dedication, and application are first class.

So there I was with a significant case of snappy headline syndrome, stemming from the constant question, 'Really? Are you sure that's the best you've got?' Yet no matter what I did, however, it all came back to these core elements that are the salient benefits of the Halevai model2050.

Accordingly, and having taken up to 48 hours to smash through said roadblock, it is now well and truly time to crack on and look at this clever concept and embodiment of real-world sensibilities.

Frank Heidinger, Founder and CEO of Halevai, was on Fisher Island in Florida when we got to speak with him. "We're here to get some more interaction with some of the youth, learning about their local environment, going out on little day cruises, and working in partnership with the University of Miami. Virginia Key is just across the way, and there's a whole wildlife protection effort being made for turtles, manatees, and all the things that live in these areas. So, our trip is partly educational, and partly sales, for these boats do really well on bay style waters, where it can easily handle 1 to 1.5m chop," said Heidinger, already talking to some of the versatility the model2050 inherently has.

Reflecting more on the recreational side of things, Heidinger added, "We're running some promotional activities with our first vessel, and some of our first customers also hail from this area. There are a lot of folks with large yachts or big centre consoles here, and even if you have the money, an afternoon's joyride can cost you $500-1000 in fuel. Our solution allows you to both dawdle around for cocktail hour, and you also have the torque to tow water toys at speed, with great range as well."

The Halevai model2050 is a trimaran, with an adaptable deck layout that goes all the way from centre console to dual console, and on to workboat-esque (e R/V as Halevai call it), which is a direct benefit of the raft style nature. The main differences, before you all say Tri-Toon (because I nearly did), is that the hulls are hulls not tubes, and the voids are usable for things like a head to port, and also storage for SUPs, tow toys, lily pads etc.

So, there is another tick in the versatility box...

Ticking boxes

The affordability box stems from not breaking too far out of your lane. Consider a set of building blocks if you will. A MerCruiser Alpha One drive is way cheaper than a waterjet or surface drive, and an electric outboard, too. Servicing and parts are available everywhere (over 5000 locations in the USA) and 'cheap', which is always a relative term with a boat (of course, the acronym for which expands to 'Bring On Another Thousand').

The next craft actually has a Bravo 2 counter-rotating screw set as its drive, and technically, you could up the power delivered to it as a result, for the motor has plenty spare presently. Still, we are trying to stay cost-effective, remember affordable from the top, so be careful how many boxes on the options list you tick!

You also get better swim platform access, can do most shallow water applications, and there is better thrust vectoring for manoeuvring than a traditional shaft and spade rudder. It also leaves more money for your centrepiece, which is battery and motor.

Equally, your composite build is not too far of a departure from the norm, can be built by a range of builders inside their existing facilities, and when the slots are there for the taking. Again, keep the price real. Yes, more exclusive fibres and resins are on the way, and these will be utilised once the cost structures reach normality.

The Halevai model2050 resides in the USD 180-220k bracket, which is close to a more conventional craft, and way less that nearly every other kind of electric craft that has blasted past the real world on the way to the stratosphere.

Size of battery pack, electronics, fixtures and finishes, and electronics all come into it for a final number. An all-alloy craft for commercial/agency/educational/research/security/patrol purposes is possible, but not deemed suitable for the brand's recreational aspirations, and certainly would not make the existing budget parameters.

At any rate, we have already seen on our sister site, Sail-World.com, that resins and fibres can be recycled, and alloy can always get another life simply by applying enough heat.

So long as affordability remains the driving force there will be take up, and then over time, the whole package benefits from firstly being viable, so as to survive, and then able to utilise developments as they come to pass. No point circling out the back of Pluto when we are trying to look after Earth...

A lot of times, craft like this operate at idle or low speed, to which the Halevai's system is ideally suited, but it is also very capable of making up to 29 knots, and do so with a very low wake profile, which suits a lot of regulatory requirements and does not disturb other boaters. The latter will appeal to marina operators, where the craft will be 'locked' inside, yet may have to get to an emergency on the other side of the facility that may be two miles away.

"Friends and family have been the early adopters, and we have some universities and institutions as part of the client base, as well. We have the hull mould already, and the deck plug is under way. We're going to be building two more prototypes and that plug between now and October. We'll pull parts from the moulds in January, with deliveries occurring from Q1 of 2025 and onwards. We are buying time in qualified facilities, so as to avoid the not insignificant overheads a big facility demands," said Heidinger with an eye to the overall programme.

"We can start to think about 100 units in year three. Being an interesting concept, rather than just another ICE craft certainly helps to open doors, as too going out on research efforts with manatees and dolphins."

Importantly, a very recent development is the signing of a contract with the über-respected Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding company in Maine. They will be completing the tooling and initial assembly. If nothing else, this speaks to Halevai's overarching desire to deliver a quality product.

"Apart from being terribly exciting, we are delighted to have an organisation of Lyman-Morse's calibre as part of the team for the expansion of Halevai, as we go from wish to dream, and thence onto reality."

Show me the money

Charging is via four-prong connector, and you can get a twist lock adapter from loads of places, as too car chargers that can take 240V/50A, and also 120V/30A. In essence, exiting infrastructure is sufficient, or if you operate in a locale that is not hitherto marine focussed you can install your own kit. Just like batteries and tech in general, everything is ever evolving, so if you cannot find a solution, you're probably just not looking.

"This is about having a much lower impact with operation. Here in Florida the power is eight cents per kilowatt hour. I have 100-kilowatt hour battery pack in this boat, so to fill it means eight dollars. Some of the Northern States, power is a little bit more expensive at 11 cents.

"You have a 30 to 50 nautical mile range on that complete charge. There is also a limp mode at 10% (6nm), should you have misjudged your usage. An ICE equivalent for those distances could easily be USD95-125, depending on where you're buying the gas."

FYI, the 50nm range is achieved at 6 knots, and it is 27nm at 21 knots, which is the most efficient, as it is the classic 80% load. In essence, these are very big day boat style ranges, where 10-20nm is more the norm as it is often a four-to-five-hour affair, including time at anchor/rest. Heidinger is confident these are better than their nearest competitors.

The LiFePO4 battery pack is guaranteed for four years, and is good for in excess of 5000 cycles. This stems from the collaboration with HyperCraft for the powertrain, and it delivers power to the most high-performance motor you can find, the IM-225 Cascadia Motion. It is in fact comprised of Cascadia Motion's CM200 Inverter, mated with BorgWarner's HVH250 motor.

It is that good that it can dole out 500nm of peak torque, and 230nm continuously. Up to 225kW of power is on offer with the continuous rating band of 110-135kW (this equates to 147-181hp). It has been dialled back in the first vessel, so as not to munch the MerCruiser Alpha One leg, and also has its own oil sump, pump, and cooler, as well as being water cooled. It is quite an amazing and compact unit, which is ideal for a craft like the Havelai model2050.

In short, it delivers more than enough wallop to hold the boat and load at the designed planing speeds from 11 to 25 knots.

"At anywhere up to 6.5 knots you're burning almost no energy whatsoever. Interestingly, if you have one third of the surface area of the boat covered with these new clear solar cells, you get 100W of power, and you can run the boat indefinitely at 5 knots whilst the sun is out. The latter is a development we are currently investigating," added Heidinger.

So, it might not be a whole new category, but it is a whole new way of looking at it. It is not a blue water boat, but it is not as heavy as them either. It is not a centre console per se, but looks like one, yet it has super-efficient hulls for low power requirements and low wake. These were created by Naval Architect, Thomas Smith.

It has more amenity than a Toon, yet has the same flat deck layout, and the trimaran nature is great for stability both under way, and at rest. The for'ard dining settee, with its pop-up wings can seat six is a direct benefit of the two immediately aforementioned features. The boat can easily, and comfortably carry nine POB, as well.

Grabbing your crystal ball for a bit of 'What if?', you get the impression that this kind of vessel may work well into certain locales within the Freedom Boat Club. With the MerCruiser side of it in place, and if Navico (Simrad) were to supply the electronics, then it could become compelling for Brunswick Corporation to investigate it all, as the big builders have not yet answered the small electric craft equation with the same aptitude. Naturally there is a bit of CANBUS development to be done, for the current system has its own panel and controls, but the possibility remains.

Of course, you get the feeling that for some this may well become the third or fourth craft in their personal armada, and yet arguably, one of the most used due to simplicity, versatility, reliability, and cost of operation. Tick yet more boxes...

Equally, it can open up the possibility to people who have not been in boating previously, or those who do not feel comfortable driving ICE powered craft. Possibility is as expansive as opportunity.

New is well, new!

With many lake areas not offering fuel waterside, the list of deterrents just grows. Then take in that educational or research market, and you have even more compelling arguments presented, as the very students themselves select institutions that have 'clean' credentials. This pull-down effect is very interesting and somewhat of a new effect to boat purchasing criteria. Reliability and ability to turn it around day after day play well into the Halevai's hand, and operational cost is low, and the overall low impact can be used as a USP for their own teaching programmes. Like yeah! That'll work.

So, there is a four year warranty on the battery pack, and it could do ten years if looked after. Now here's the thing. Instead of re-powering, like you do with ICE craft eventually, especially if used heavily or poorly. How about re-packing. Yes. Trade in the old battery pack for new one. That could be a great way to handle the issue, and it is something that is in development presently. Buy back. Nice plan. Let's hope it comes to pass.

By the time it comes about, a 200kWh pack could fit in the space 100 used to occupy and maybe even weigh the same or substantially less than double. Such is pace of development in the space that it would have to be odds on.

"We're looking at a plan that will have a one day to one week turnaround, and can be done in the off-season to limit the impact on your boating. I've done it numerous times now because we were testing multiple battery architectures. Just forklift out the old, and in with the new, plus you get a new four-year warranty and have up to double the range," said Heidinger.

"The model2050's name stems from COP21 and the year 2050. We're not going to solve all our problems for the next ten years, or even twenty years, but in thirty years, we're going to have this demand, this mandate. Halevai is starting with power because it's available now.

"The American grid is only 13 percent renewable now. By 2030, it's going to be 20 percent renewable. 2040, it's 60 percent renewable. My hope is by 2050, it's going to be 90 plus percent renewable energy.

"We're working with multiple partners to find those next solutions that will be affordable so there is take up, and demand builds a future, after all. Biotech resins and composites are a huge part of this equation. I would hope that in five years we will be building from these materials."

"I use the example of Lycra was developed by DuPont in 1920. It did not scale up until the 90s. Then, within twenty years it was in just about every piece of clothing that we're wearing right now. So you develop the material, you show that it can work, then promote its use and benefit, and it may take a generation for the results to flow. Ponder that the steam engine just stopped being used, and after years of staying up, the Berlin Wall came down in just two weeks. We, the people, do have real power to make change.

"All of this is why we chose to be an integrator of a new experience, versus trying to build the biggest, and fastest vessel. We want people to get excited about this, and actually buy the boats, rather than just have a picture as their screensaver. You aggregate the technology, you take what's best, and then you constantly work to improve it and get the best customer outcome, and I think that's what separates what we're doing from others.

"Yes, there is a lot of complexity in design and calculations, but it is all about making the user experience both worthwhile and simple. It's easy to understand, easy to service, and easy to recharge."

All of this makes it very approachable, and maybe I should have put that in the heading, but I am definitely not going back to change it now. No way!

OK. Today you will find that the website has an abundance of material from right across the globe, and if you cannot find something, just try the search button right up the top of the landing page, above our logo. If you cannot find what you want or wish to want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

Finally. Please look after yourselves,

John Curnow
Global Editor, Powerboat.World

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