Ali Wood meets the French team behind the new TEMO 1000, and tests the electric outboard on Southampton Water
Although the TEMO 1000 electric outboard is still in the final stages of production, PBO was lucky enough to take it for a spin on Southampton Water recently… and got a bit more fun than we bargained for!
But those expecting an upsized version of the eye-catching 450 will be surprised; the engine is altogether different from the debut model.
Rather than having a long tail, the 1000 is a sleek oblong design built to accommodate a slide-away tiller and adjustable shaft length, allowing it to be switched between boats with different height freeboards.
“It’s a more powerful product than the 450,” says UK distributor David Ellis of Marine Components International.
“Rather than a slipway to mooring engine like the 450, this is designed for large inflatable tenders and small sports keel boats.”
TEMO founder and CEO Alexandre Seux unveiled the prototype recently.
A Normandy business school graduate, Alexandre is also a keen yacht racer and came up with the idea after returning from a world circuit.
He felt there was a gap in the market for a simple electric outboard that was as easy to handle as an eScooter or eBike.
He founded TEMO together with sales and marketing specialist Justine Perussel, and the two shared office space with other start-up businesses in Nantes in France’s Loire-Atlantique region.
The team has now grown to 15 and recently moved to Vannes in the Morbihan region of Brittany, at the heart of French sailing.
The 450m2 premises include a public showroom and laboratory and the plan is to double the workforce by 2025, while continuing to build the engines in France.
“Though we are not yet profitable, sales are going better than expected,” says sales manager Laetitia Buret. “We’re continually developing and have formed new partnerships in the US and Spain.”
Together with David Ellis and TEMO engineer Damien Rolland, PBO’s Laura Hodgetts and I took the TEMO 1000 for a quick sea trial out on Southampton Water.
The first thing I noticed was how light and portable the engine was.
Despite having a 1.1kW capacity and static thrust of 28kg (comparable in terms of speed to 3hp), the engine weighed just 15kg, including the 7kg cassette-style slide-in battery, which can be carried separately by handles.
And if you’re worried about not having enough range, from June 2024 it will be possible to purchase a spare 940Wh lithium-ion battery.
I had no problems lifting the engine onto the transom of the 3D Tender and, thanks to the 360° rotating bracket, I could install it safely inboard.
Once attached, I swung the engine around and dropped it in the water. In lumpy seas, this would be a far safer option than the conventional method of leaning over the transom.
The engine needs to be in neutral to start, as indicated by an N on the display.
A word of caution, though, be sure to secure the leg before going into reverse, as otherwise it will kick up, which took us by surprise as we left the pontoon.
Testing the TEMO 1000
As the sun shone down on the boat show crowds, David took us out on the water, past smart new boats dressed in bunting and the 47m Dutch tall ship Thalassa.
“It’s literally just twist and go,” he explained, demonstrating the throttle. “Obviously, the faster you go, the more you eat through the battery. This has a run time of 60 minutes at full power, but you can get up to three or four hours at a lower speed.”
The joy of electric engines is just how quiet they are – allowing you to get close to nature or, in this instance, to easily hold a conversation while under way.
David passed me the helm, and I sped up and slowed down, taking note of the digital display as it adjusted the power and time remaining.
With electric engines of this size, there’s not usually a lot to gain in speed when going from an efficient 2-3 knots over the water to, say, a top speed of 4 knots, but you dramatically reduce battery time remaining.
For example, at 300W we had two hours remaining; at 1,100W this was just 40 minutes.
“You’re looking at 450W to 500W for a good range at a good average speed of 2-3 knots,” says David. “But you could obviously vary it. If you’re going out in a low tidal-stream area you can use a lower wattage but you’d use a higher wattage to push against a faster current.”
Having reached full power, I couldn’t throttle back.
On previous electric outboard tests I’ve struggled to feel the soft click of ‘neutral’ and accidentally gone into reverse, but getting stuck on full power in forwards was a new experience.
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David and Damien intervened but neither could slow down the engine, so we did the sensible thing and removed the magnetic killcord.
With the engine now switched off, it wouldn’t restart, so David resorted to rowing until Laura flagged down the boat show patrol RIB.
The exchange that followed went something like this: “Could we have a little shove back in?” “Is the electric outboard not …?” “Yeah, It died unfortunately.” “There’s something to be said for petrol, mate.”
To be fair, I’ve had petrol outboards conk out on me too.
Who hasn’t had that excruciating experience of yanking a pull-cord while going backwards in a tidal stream, bouncing off moored boats?
But while I felt bad for TEMO, I politely denied the suggestion that I’d twisted the throttle too hard.
And were that actually the case, shouldn’t a throttle be able to withstand being ‘over-twisted’ by a 60kg driver?
Rather, this was a pre-production engine, still undergoing testing, and these things happen.
Judging by the success of the TEMO 450, I’m sure that any faults will be ironed out before the engines hit the shelves in January 2024.
Fortunately, by the time we got back Alexandre was on the pontoon with a second engine for us, which ran perfectly.
I found the TEMO 1000 to be quiet, responsive, easy to handle, and was particularly impressed by the 360° rotation.
Damien demonstrated just how easily we could turn on a sixpence by pushing the helm hard over. He made us rather dizzy!
The look and feel of the engine is striking. It’s small, flat on top and lacks the typical casing you’re used to seeing on the top of most petrol outboards.
In fact, it looks almost incomplete – as if it should have a cover – but this is because access is required to extend and stow the tiller, which cleverly slides down into the power leg when not in use.
I’m 5ft 4in and I did find myself leaning inwards to grip the tiller.
In a larger cockpit or a sailing boat, I think I’d need a tiller extension. Or better still, I’d lock the motor in position, put the tiller away and switch to using the boat’s own tiller.
Doing this you still need to adjust the controls on the unit itself, however.
Other models such as ePropulsion and Torqeedo have solved this problem by offering a remote throttle version with a range of controls, as opposed to a tiller.
PBO reader Jon Walmsley even fashioned his own tiller for his remotely steered ePropulsion electric outboard, allowing him to switch it between a tender and cruising catamaran.
I asked Damien if remote steering is on the cards for the TEMO 1000 and whether it will be something that can be retrofitted.
“We’re looking at remote control and regen, but at the moment we don’t know if it would require only software, and could maybe be retrofitted, but if it needs electronic or mechanical stuff to change I don’t think it will be possible,” he said.
Regen and charging the TEMO 1000
Regenerative charging – where the engine can be hydro-charged under sail – is a keen area of development in electric propulsion, but would have limited use for the TEMO 1000’s intended market of sports sailing boats.
It’s unlikely the length of time spent sailing would be enough to generate a decent charge. The same applies to solar charging.
“If you’re racing a sports keel boat around the cans and need to get in and out of the Hamble or Lymington River and back, this is the outboard for you,” says David. “A bigger yacht or a longer duration sail, and this wouldn’t be the right outboard. Neither would a 3.5hp.”
Rather, the TEMO 1000 is designed to be charged ashore using 220V (taking around five and a half hours) or with a 12/24V DC adaptor.
A clever feature of the TEMO 1000 is its adjustable shaft depth (42cm to 62cm).
Traditional outboards have a long or short shaft option, but this is mounted on a sliding track so you don’t have to decide between the two.
There’s also a 20° variation in trim angle, allowing navigation in shallow waters.
The prototype we tested was secured with screws and required an Allen key, but David assured me the production version will have a clamp that can be adjusted by hand.
Final thoughts on the TEMO 1000
We only had half an hour on the water, which is no substitute for testing an outboard over a season, where you can drain the battery, drop it in the water, run it aground and all the things that tend to happen when you’re in a rush or forget to read the manual.
However, from our short session the TEMO 1000 looks to be a smart, portable and powerful electric engine.
I like that the engineers have done their own thing – not copied other models out there – and really honed in on the ergonomic features such as the cassette battery, its portability and the telescopic tiller that slides back inside the leg.
I like that the shaft height is adjustable and that the engine itself is very straightforward.
Teething issues aside, the on/off switch and forwards/backwards throttle is simple enough for a child to operate.
For an outboard you intend to lug around – pop in and out of car boots, swap between boats and charge on the floor at home or on a mooring – you couldn’t ask for more.
If you’re after more advanced features – such as inboard controls, solar charging and regen – then keep an eye on TEMO France as it is continually developing its product.
The engine is expected to retail in the region of £2,500 including VAT.
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