Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Electric Boats Float into Region; First Southeast Dealership Open

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Electric Boats Float into Region; First Southeast Dealership Open

Article excerpt

Byline: Gordon Jackson, Times-Union staff writer

ST. MARYS -- The nation's largest manufacturer of electric boats has been in business 33 years but never has had a dealership in the Southeast -- until now.

The new dealership owners of Electric Dreams say they believe the timing is right to begin selling Duffy Electric Boats in the Southeast. Their new St. Marys-based dealership's exclusive region runs from Hilton Head, S.C., to Palm Coast.

Kevin Kearns, the company's vice president of national sales, said one reason it's taken so long to open a dealership in the Southeast is because of the company's limited manufacturing capabilities in the past. But a new manufacturing plant has just been built in Southern California, prompting the company to expand its sales area.

The most popular region for the boats is Newport Harbor in Southern California, where more than 1,250 Duffy Electric Boats cruise the 3.5-mile bay, Kearns said.

"For the first time in the company's 33-year history, we can build enough," Kearns said. "If one of the [new] areas were to catch on like it is in Newport, it will be fabulous for the company."

The boats are powered by the same motor used in many electric golf carts, and the power plant from the motor to the propeller have a lifetime warranty, as long as the boat still is owned by its original purchaser, Kearns said.

The boats aren't designed for those in a hurry, Kearns said. Their top speed is 5 or 6 mph. But for those who aren't in a hurry and want an inexpensive day on the water with a minimum amount of preparation to get under way, an electric boat may be the answer, Kearns said.

It costs about 80 cents to recharge a fully drained bank of 16 marine batteries that power the boat, Kearns said. The batteries can be recharged overnight, he said.

Jerry Mallot, executive vice president of economic development for the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, said he recently attended a demonstration of the dealership's new boats and liked what he saw.

"It's totally quiet, yet moves plenty fast to get around," Mallot said. ""It's really a wonderful way to experience the marshes and waterways in the region. …

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