SeaBubbles, a kind of flying taxi on the water, could be mass-produced starting from 2021. At least that's what their designer, Alain Th...
SeaBubbles, a kind of flying taxi on the water, could be mass-produced starting from 2021. At least that's what their designer, Alain Thébault, who has set up the design office of his start-up on the shores of Lake Annecy in Haute-Savoie, hopes.
The adventure could start as early as January 2021 for Alain Thébault. The founder of the SeaBubbles start-up announces the launch of mass production of his flying taxis on the water for the beginning of next year.
"The final version of the SeaBubble is being finalised until December, then it goes into production at the beginning of 2021 for deliveries six months later," he said.
Created in 2016, the company wants to relieve congestion in towns and cities by developing water transport, with a promise: "No noise, no waves, no pollution and a vehicle that just spits out water vapour thanks to (its) hydrogen propulsion," enthused the naval architect who has set up his design office and assembly line in Saint-Jorioz, on the shores of Lake Annecy. To achieve this feat, the SeaBubbles are based on the principle of the hydrofoil developed by Alain Thébault, with which he broke a sailing speed record in 2009.
Foils", a sort of submerged fins, keep the boat out of the water about 50 centimetres above the waves, thanks to the speed. "That's 30 to 40 percent less brake," explains the entrepreneur, who is counting on an initial production of 50. Nine SeaBubbles have already been ordered, he says.
Sous l’autorité de deux solides Conseillers industriels, Philippe Gaï @Polytechnique @ENSTAParis @navalgroup 🇫🇷 et Bertrand Cardis @EPFL @solarimpulse @alinghi 🇨🇭, relocalisée en Europe, la production d’un lot de 50 @SeaBubbles #Hydrogen démarre en 2021 🌍 https://t.co/OswadYJJnk— Alain Thébault (@Alain_Thebault) July 19, 2020
Alain Thébault highlights the interest of cities such as Dubai, Venice, Zurich, Paris... He hopes to sell the first 50 units "before the end of this year". "I've adopted the model of Tesla (the American manufacturer of high-end electric cars, Editor's note). You have to pay a symbolic deposit and you pay it on delivery," explains the inventor.
A boat-bus assembled in Lyon
"When we were received by the ministers in Dubai, we were told, 'Here, anything is possible. There is no speed limit," the CEO said. "There is a need for five million in funding for the first objective of the 50 bubbles, and seven million for the HiBus part," the company's financial adviser says.
In addition to the seven-seater SeaBubbles, including one for the pilot, Alain Thébault's ambition is to market a 12 or 32-seater bus-boat by 2022. The HiBus could be assembled in Lyon. To make these projects a reality, the start-up is in "preliminary discussions with a Franco-Swiss family" to meet the first part of its investment needs, confides this external consultant to the company.
So far, SeaBubbles has raised €13 million, mainly from MAIF, but also from the Partech fund, Henri Seydoux (Parrot) and Philippe Camus (ex-Lagardère and Airbus). The start-up has also received grants from Bpifrance and the European Union. In 2019, the purchase by a foreign investment fund of the 65% stake in the Thébault family's capital was announced in the media, before a back-pedal. "We decided with my children that it was too early to sell," says the father of five.
Swedish windsurfer Anders Bringdal, co-founder of SeaBubbles, was recently "landed by the board," says Thébault. Eventually, SeaBubbles could become self-sustaining and be made of biodegradable materials. For now, the major innovation of the first series will be a hybrid, electric and hydrogen engine, offering an autonomy of "2h30 for four minutes of charging time," says the CEO.