Transformation / Mobility
Breaking the wave
Serial-enrepreneur Konrad Bergström wants to electrify the sea. Will his motorboat brand X shore be the tipping point?
Photography Mattias Edwall Interview KONRAD OLSSON
6 Apr 2021

I just realised that we can actually do this interview on the boat, it’s so quiet!

— This is the beauty of it, getting out on the water without fumes and noise. You hear the water, but that’s about it. We can do yoga on the boat. Or go wakeboarding, because it’s that ­powerful as well. 

Why is an electric boat better than one with a combustion engine?

— When I started with this idea and looked at different technologies, it was obvious that electrification of boats made so much more sense. The density of water is 784 times the air. Whatever you drive in water, it takes a lot of energy. And electricity has a better energy efficiency compared to combustion engines. But it is also about the fact that a boat is usually an open space. In any boat you ride, you’re always getting the fumes inside, one way or another, which sucks. You’re out on the sea, which is, for me, the best place on Earth, and then you’re having all these fumes. I couldn’t really get my head around that. 

What do you hope to achieve with X Shore?

— Of course, it’s a business thing. We want to sell a lot of boats. The reason I went into the marine segment is that it’s really been sleeping. I couldn’t find a boat that I wanted, so we flipped the whole design over and came up with something new. But it’s also about changing a segment that is putting out a lot of bad things into the water. For us, it’s important to take care of the sea. It’s nice to find a business where the more you sell, the better it will be. 

How did it all start?

— The idea has been with me for a long time. I registered the brand name already in 1996. I got a global trademark for X Shore. In 2017, we thought the technology was there, so we made the first prototype. That didn’t go very far. I think around like 400 ­metres. The top speed was 11 knots. But the experience of getting out and only hearing the water, that got me really, really excited. I started to invest more money into the project.

Konrad behind the wheel of the Eelex 8000.

Talk to me about the design. It has a very special look.

— We found this very distinct design back in 2018. We mixed functionality with aesthetics and smart materials. Take the cork, for example. It’s warm when it’s cold outside, and cold when it’s hot. It’s anti‑slippery and takes away sound. It also sustainable because it grows on trees. The whole design is very innovative. We have the open back, which we cannot do unless we have an electric engine. Then I wanted to have a minibar. This one is designed as a chiller, where you can have magnum bottles. I had another boat where I couldn’t put in my magnums. I fucking hated it.

What do you think the industry as a whole needs to do to move towards being more electrified?

— The good thing is that the grid is really built out. All ­harbours with big ships already need a lot of electricity. The infrastructure is already there in many cases. Of course, if we could have DC-DC charging where you charge in one hour, it would be amazing. The whole boat market is also like an old traditional segment that needs some revolution. It’s going to take some balls to make that happen. I don’t see any challenges that we can’t fix. That’s the good thing, but it’s going to be a lot of hard work to make it happen.

Is the consumer ready to take on electric boats, or is it conservative?

— For sure. Smart people can see that this is a fraction of the cost of driving a gas driven boat. It’s an experience like nothing else out there. It’s like sailing without wind. The customer today is someone who’s thinking of tomorrow and cares about their kids. 

How important is your Scandinavian heritage?

— That is crucial. Sweden is an old industrial country that has made a lot of innovations. When you say that you’re a Swedish company, people trust your technology. They know that you’re for real. They know that we’re really good in design when it comes to both aesthetics as well as functions. Being from Sweden has definitely made it much easier.

Tell me about the little figurine in the bow.

— Boats have this old tradition of figureheads in the front. When we were designing, we were inspired by the South American electric eel, which has a big head and a gracious body. It’s designed by the artist William Pacheco and sculptured by Johan Ferner Ström. It’s bronze so when it gets out in the water, it oxides and become s green. That symbolises that we are a shadow in nature instead of working against nature. I call it The Power of Silence.