Do you see that beautiful specimen up there? Sleek, powerful, nimble, and ready? He’s riding one of the first series-production Taiga Orca electric watercraft in the world, and it is an absolute thrill-ride.
What’s the Orca, why am I riding it, and why should you care? Keep reading, and you’ll find your answers.
Wherefore Art Thou Orca?
We first covered the Orca back in 2020, when Taiga – little more than a tech startup then – first showed the all-electric, 180 HP personal watercraft to the world. That PWC was full of promise, and the company full of hope, but it wasn’t all that clear if their bank accounts were full enough to ever make good on all that promise and hope.
Then, Taiga got a huge boost in the form of $50 million Canadian. A gift from the Canadian government to boost green manufacturing in the region, the cash infusion and for-real factory catapulted Taiga into “very, very for real” territory almost overnight – enabling CEO Sam Bruneau to hire the engineers, designers, and software people needed to deliver on what he called, “e-powersports with no compromises.”
And, as far as I can tell, the Orca – so named because it’s big, fast, and smart – is very nearly that.
Why is Jo Borrás Riding a Taiga?
For what it’s worth, the universe really, really didn’t want me to ride this thing. The first time Taiga and I had worked out a schedule to fly out and experience the Taiga electric powertrain that’s common to all its products was last winter, when I had the chance to ride a Taiga Nomad snowmobile… until I got COVID and very s believed I might die. (It was a whole thing, kids – get that booster!)
The second time, an obstacle put me, on the day I was set to fly out, in two places at once – a trick that I am typically not able to pull off in a productive manner.
As they say, however, the third time’s a charm, and I was finally able to make it out to Burlington, Vermont, where I was among the first missions to ride the all-new Orca Carbon at speed.
Well- kind of at speed.
Taiga Orca Smart Screen
Toggling through the drive modes, the Taiga Orca offers Eco, Sport, and a third, full-power “Wild” setting. We were limited on our ride to eco and sport, but even there, the Taiga proved to be very quick off the line, responsive, and stable enough at speed to inspire confidence – even if it did take me a few minutes longer than I’ d like to admit to get comfortable standing on and leaning into it a bit.
Then, just as soon as I started feeling good about myself and had the trim – which is digitally adjusted with the left-hand toggle – the way I liked it, it was time to come in.
“I thought I had twenty minutes?” I asked Angela (?), who you can see up there in the earlier pictures.
“You got a lot more than that,” she said, with a smile.
A quick peek at my trusty “Casioak” GA2100VB-1A proved her right. I’d been out on the water nearly forty minutes, by that point, and I would have stayed out another forty and still complained that it wasn’t enough – that’s how much fun this Taiga Orca is.
Of Course It Is.
While it’s been about (read: at least!) a dozen years since I’d spent any real time on a PWC – my cousin Alex’ Yamaha WaveRunner, in Florida – it felt, to me, like the Orca made it easy to get up to speed and enjoy your time on the water. The instant torque and predictable throttle response made steering and handling the Orca, especially at very slow speeds, easy, underscoring the appeal that a product like this would surely have to the hotel and tourism industry, as well as the charter yacht business.
Still, it wasn’t that perfectly linear throttle input = motor output that made the Orca a super easy beast to ride. It was the quiet.
I was able to hear every instruction, every direction, and every riding tip Taiga’s press wranglers said to me. And that’s critical: said.
Not shouted, not yelled, not signaled, but said. Even from twenty feet away, with no idle noise, no noise of motors revving in the distance as other riders did their thing, no high-pitched engine barks as the Orcas jumped from wave to wave – it was silent, smooth, and utterly enjoyable .
It’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating here: you have no idea how much of your boating experience is noise, shouting, and exhaust stink until you experience the water under electric power. It is simply game-changing.
Plug and Go.
With V2V charging available from the Ford F-150 Lightning, upcoming Chevy Silverado EV, and others, you might even be able to charge the Orca on the drive out to the dock. How neat would that be?
Even without the V2V angle, though, the new Taiga charges quickly enough on L2 (220/240V) to top off the battery in just three hours, and is good for about 45 km of riding (put another way, about 20 minutes of real hard riding, and 30-45 minutes of what passes for tourist riding at a hotel rental). Plenty of time, in other words, to charge it back up while the next group of renters gets oriented and goes through the safety course.
And, frankly, it doesn’t matter how much time the Orca can run. On a vehicle that’s as awesome, high-tech fun to ride as this one, it’s never going to be enough. As it is for all the best things in life.
Original content from CleanTechnica.
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.