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RAD Propulsion Leading the Charge in Electric Boats

In the face of mounting concerns over carbon emissions, pollution, and the finite nature of fossil fuels, the global call for greener alternatives is louder than ever. The maritime sector, accounting for 3% of global CO2 emissions, has been at the forefront of this shift, with electric propulsion emerging as a cleaner, more dependable option.

Boatbuilders are increasingly recognising the many benefits of electric outboard motors, which, in addition to being cleaner, quieter, and more efficient than traditional petrol engines, are often smaller, lighter, and easier to maintain.

One company leading this trend is RAD Propulsion, co-founded in 2018 by Dan Hook and Rich Daltry. With a background in developing some of the world’s most sophisticated marine robot boats for the offshore industry, they saw an opportunity to apply these technologies to the marine leisure and yachting sector. With several partnerships already in place, new team members on board, and €4 million in recent funding, RAD is poised for rapid expansion and mass production of its products.

Early days and product development

RAD's first foray into marine propulsion was a partnership with RS Electric, where they developed a RIM drive for RS's innovative Pulse electric RIBs. In 2020, with funding from Innovate UK, they continued their R&D of the thin-section RIM drive, focusing on building a robust supply chain. By 2021, they had completed the R&D and begun developing the RADBus control system, their onboard control and data network. The following year, they shifted focus to their first electric outboard motor, the RAD 40, a 40kW, 400V outboard for small watercraft, which they launched at METSTRADE 2022.

The RAD 40 and strategic partnerships

The RAD 40 is a compact, lightweight outboard designed from the ground up to leverage the advantages of electric propulsion. With a 180-degree steering angle and a quiet yet powerful high-torque motor, it offers effortless low-speed manoeuvrability. Additionally, its use of batteries over combustion power minimises vibrations, resulting in a smoother on-water experience.

Since the RAD 40's development, RAD has entered into several strategic partnerships. In November 2023, they partnered with Hyrex AS to supply and fit the RAD 40 to the Hyrex 28 day cruiser model, featuring Hyrex’s HyBoost range extender technology: “With our focus on commercial boats, we are pleased to have found a partner that can deliver robust electric solutions suitable for our product development pipeline,” stated Eirik Malterud, Hyrex CEO.

This was followed by a partnership with Finnish boat builders Valkama for their 'Picnic model' in December 2023. The picnic model is a 5.1 metre all-aluminium pleasure craft, which underscores RAD’s to propelling low emission vessels. Valkama founder, Antti Siiskonen, commented on working with RAD: “It makes a real difference for us as boat builders. The team listens to our requirements and do what they can to make it work for both of us. It’s very refreshing to have a forward thinking partner, especially in this ever-changing sector of the market,”

RAD is a key partner of the ZENOW project with RS Electric Boats, introducing twenty electric workboats across ten UK locations by March 2025. This collaborative initiative, spearheaded by RS and 15 UK marine partners, is set to introduce twenty electric workboats across ten locations in the UK by March 2025. With a total funding of £5.4 million, including a significant £4.1 million grant from UK SHORE and Innovate UK, the project aims to equip Pulse 63s and Cheetah Marine boats with the innovative RAD Propulsion systems.

The ZENOW project includes a comprehensive three-year demonstration phase, during which various partners will operate the vessels in diverse environments, showcasing the capabilities of the RAD systems and gathering important data to help the marine electrification journey.

RAD CEO Dan Hook expressed his enthusiasm about the project, stating: “RAD Propulsion is delighted to be working with RS Electric Boats as one of the winning ZEVI funding projects. This kind of funding is vital in helping us to accelerate the adoption of zero emission vessels across the UK. It means we can bring together twenty commercial workboats with partners ranging from harbourmasters, universities and government agencies.”

Launching in the US with Stephen Warings Design

As part of their campaign to expand into US markets, RAD announced their partnership with Maine based naval architects Stephen Warings design in February 2024. This exclusive collaboration will focus on producing a new 26-foot electric commuter boat, scheduled to launch in Autumn of this year.

The boat, named ‘Isobel’, combines a classic aesthetic reminiscent of the 1950s with modern functionalities such as ease of operation, high performance, and reliability. The RAD 40 drive is ideally suited for this vessel, seamlessly fitting into the hull and enhancing its overall efficiency.

Pete Byford, RAD CTO, said of the partnership: “Stephens Waring came to us with this project looking for a drive and battery for an electric commuter boat, without compromising on performance, style or ease of operation. We are delighted to partner with them and Isobel is a beautiful boat that the RAD 40 compliments perfectly.”

Bob Stephens, of Stephens Waring Design, said: “From our first interaction the RAD team have impressed us with their expert engineering knowledge and attention to detail. The RAD 40 with its standout design and superior operating features makes it the ideal choice for the high spec Isobel. We are looking forward to getting testing underway to deliver the finished boat to our customer later this year and hope this will be the first of many projects with RAD.”

Investments to date and the road ahead

In 2023, OnePlanetCapital made a follow-on investment in RAD to facilitate operational scale-up as the RAD 40 went into production. Matt Jellicoe of OnePlanetCapital commented on the investment; “RAD Propulsion is building momentum quickly with sought after products. The industry buy-in is snowballing and with an experienced team at the helm in Daniel Hook and Richard Daltry the business is on an upward trajectory that we are thrilled to be part of”.

The latest investment, in February 2024, came from Ocean Infinity, totaling £1,000,000. This round of funding will support RAD's rapid operational scale-up as they move into mass production of the RAD 40 and accelerate new product developments.

Oliver Plunkett, CEO Ocean Infinity said: “Ocean Infinity firmly believes that developing and deploying innovative technology is key to reducing environmental impacts of operations at sea. Our relationship with RAD Propulsion will accelerate the adoption of electric propulsion in the marine world – an important step in the transition away from reliance on fossil fuels. The opportunity for this rapidly growing business to have a major impact on the future environmental footprint of the marine industry is truly exciting.”

In recent months, RAD has welcomed six new members to its team, including a new research and development systems engineer and a commercially driven business development manager. Nastaran Sadr, an expert in web and app development, also joined the company in early February. The addition of a dedicated head of marketing on a full-time basis has enabled RAD to maintain its momentum as both production and sales escalate.

With an innovative team, a highly sought-after product, and significant industry support, RAD Propulsion is well-positioned to make a substantial impact on the marine industry's environmental footprint. In the coming year, RAD will prioritise the development of its next flagship product, the RAD 120—a more powerful iteration of the RAD 40 drive, which will propel the company to even greater heights and open the door to a new class of vessels.

For more information on RAD Propulsion, please visit the website

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