Insider Q&A: Navier CEO Sampriti Bhattacharyya

Jan 2, 2023, 6:00 AM | Updated: 6:04 am

Sampriti Bhattacharyya is bringing a 30-foot electric yacht to the upcoming CES gadget show in Las Vegas.

The co-founder and CEO of electric hydrofoil startup Navier said she hopes her company’s debut line of luxury boats helps spark a broader shift to a cleaner maritime industry, much like Tesla did for electric cars.

Headquartered along San Francisco Bay in Alameda, California, the startup’s influential supporters include Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Its first boats are being built in Maine, with composite parts from Rhode Island and other U.S. boating hubs. Bhattacharyya spoke about her company with The Associated Press. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: How would you describe your first product?

A: We just launched the Navier 30. It’s a 30-foot electric hydrofoiling boat. Our goal is to be the longest-range electric boat at cruising speed. It has a 75 nautical miles range. And hopefully in the next year, we aim to push it to 100 nautical miles. This is really America’s first all-electric hydrofoil boat.

Q: How much does it cost?

A: $375,000, starting base range.

Q: How many have you sold?

A: Our first year, we are only making 15. Those are all sold out. But we have a pretty massive waitlist.

Q: Is there a parallel to Tesla where you’re launching the luxury vehicle first and down the road looking at more accessible options?

A: I love being out in the water and I don’t think it should be limited to just a few. So there will be more announcements on that. The big picture is the N30 is really a technology platform, where we are perfecting our hydrofoil control and parts of our autonomy technology. Then you’ll be seeing much more scalable options, even for recreational boaters.

Q: How important is autonomy?

A: Most recreational boaters enjoy driving a boat but what’s been most requested in terms of autonomy is auto-docking. Docking can be pretty overwhelming, especially if you’re a beginner. Even for experienced boaters, some slips can be really tight. It can be pretty challenging to do it singlehandedly. So if you think about a 6-passenger water taxi, you have to have a commercial captain license. That’s very expensive, like a $50-an-hour job. So removing the captain has a huge cost benefit in making water taxis accessible.

Q: How does this relate to your research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology?

A: I was an aerospace engineer who always thought I was going to go to space. Then at MIT, I started working on underwater drones for monitoring energy systems, like nuclear reactors or boiling water reactors. But when the Malaysian airliner got lost (in 2014), my attention turned to the ocean. We are talking about going to Mars and we cannot find a massive plane that gets lost in the ocean. That’s crazy. This is 70% of the world — the future of food, energy — and we are thinking of settling outside of this planet. But why wouldn’t humanity expand beyond the shores of land? I saw the opportunity for building a next-generation maritime company.

Q: Who do you see as Navier’s customers 10 years from now?

A: There is a huge untapped opportunity in boating. Today, boats are looked at something like a wealthy person’s toy. With technology, making the waterways more accessible will open up a huge new mode of transportation that we have never imagined before. If you are able to make small vessels move things and people on the water, suddenly the waterways are no more an obstacle and every marina can turn into a train station stop, essentially.

Q: Why aren’t water taxis more popular?

A: One reason is cost, including fuel cost. Another is ride quality. People get seasick. There is nobody who would want to be on a choppy water taxi twice a day. With the hydrofoil boat, you’re flying above the water. So it’s really the feeling of being on a jet plane. You can have a wine glass and it does not spill. And it’s quiet, extremely quiet. You can have a conversation, unlike on a gas boat.

Q: Who are your main competitors?

A: There are other hydrofoil boats, obviously, but that’s not what we see as competitors. We’ve got to transition to cleaner options. So the main competitors would be your gas boats that are out there that are polluting our waterways. That’s what we want to replace. Electric boats are still a tiny, tiny, tiny percentage of the total number of boats.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A currency trader watches monitors near the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (...
Associated Press

Asian stocks mixed after Wall St sinks on rate fears

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed Tuesday after Wall Street sank under pressure from interest rate worries, Japanese wages rose and Australia’s central bank hiked its benchmark lending rate. Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul advanced. Tokyo and Sydney declined. Oil prices rose. Wall Street sank for a second day Monday after unexpectedly strong […]
23 hours ago
New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, left, listens as Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albane...
Associated Press

Australian, New Zealand leaders’ talk focuses on China

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian and New Zealand prime ministers met Tuesday to talk about China’s importance to their national economies, resolving to voice their disagreements with their most important trading partner that is becoming more assertive in their region. New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins made Australia the destination of his first overseas trip […]
23 hours ago
FILE - Philip Lowe, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia addresses a lunch in Sydney, Australi...
Associated Press

Australia lifts cash rate to 3.35% with 9th rate hike

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s central bank on Tuesday lifted its benchmark interest rate for a ninth consecutive time to 3.35% as it battles inflation that rose to 7.8% in the latest quarter. The Reserve Bank of Australia’s decision to increase its cash rate by 0.25 of a basis point was widely anticipated after the […]
23 hours ago
Transgender activist Henry Edward Tse speaks to reporters outside of Court of Final Appeal in Hong ...
Associated Press

Hong Kong transgender men win appeal over status change

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong’s top court ruled Monday that full sex reassignment surgery should not be a prerequisite for transgender people to have their gender changed on their official identity cards, in a move that is likely to have a far-reaching impact on the transgender community. A transgender activist, Henry Edward Tse, and […]
23 hours ago
This photo provided by Budweiser shows a scene from Budweiser's 2023 Super Bowl NFL football ad. Br...
Associated Press

For Super Bowl ads this year, crypto is out, booze is in

NEW YORK (AP) — The hottest ticket in town for advertisers is officially sold out. Fox said Monday that in-game ads for Super Bowl LVII have all been sold. The big game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles takes place on Sunday. The Super Bowl is advertising’s biggest stage, with advertisers jockeying […]
23 hours ago
FILE -- A man walks out of a vaccination bus at a mobile vaccine clinic in Midtown Manhattan, Dec. ...
Associated Press

NYC ending COVID-19 vaccination mandate for city employees

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City, which once had the nation’s strictest workplace vaccination rules for COVID-19, is ending one of its last such mandates, saying it will no longer require the shots for municipal employees including police officers, firefighters and teachers. The vaccine mandate, which led to the firing of hundreds of city […]
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Insider Q&A: Navier CEO Sampriti Bhattacharyya