New Electric Hovercraft That Resembles a Ferrari Set to Launch Soon

New Electric Hovercraft That Resembles a Ferrari Set to Launch Soon
Courtesy of VonMercier

There is nothing faster, quieter, or more electric than the VonMercier Arosa, and it looks like a supercar as well.

As a teenager, Michael Mercier was subscribed to Boys' Life magazine by his father, the founder and CEO of VonMercier, a manufacturer of battery-powered hovercraft.

“It was the kind of magazine where you could get X-ray glasses, sea monkeys—that sort of thing,” Mercier said. “But there was also a recipe for an air cart where you just needed a round sheet of plywood, an old vacuum cleaner, and a strip of shower curtain material.”

“I was able to put my little sister on it out in the garage and move it around,” Mercier says. “My mind was just blown.”

Courtesy of VonMercier

He built more sophisticated versions of the hovercrafts for school science fair projects and even while studying mechanical engineering in college and transitioning to corporate roles in product development, he always had the idea for an even better hovercraft in the back of his mind.

Despite their appearance as if they belong in midcentury science fiction and Jetson cartoons, hovercrafts are powered by air cushions that allow them to glide over land or water. As Mercier points out, although the core technology has been around for decades, perfunctory models have been noisy and difficult to control for years.  

“It hadn’t caught on like ATVs or Jet Skis,” he explains. “The idea of personal hovercraft got left behind.”

Courtesy of VonMercier

In the last few months, Mercier, 36, has been making his vision come true. His invention, the $200k battery-electric Arosa personal hovercraft, is powered by three electric motors rather than a traditional gasoline engine. 

Mercier claims that the amphibious vehicle is capable of hovering around six inches in the air, so it is able to glide over grass, gravel, sand, snow, and water effortlessly.

As a result of thrust and air flow, hovercraft are capable of lifting, accelerating, braking, and traveling in a 360 degree circle. As a replacement for brakes, the driver uses reverse thrust to slow or stop the craft on land or on the water. 

VonMercier completed a crowdfunding campaign in December that raised $111,000 to develop the Arosa.

Courtesy of VonMercier

Although the Arosa's curvy carbon-fiber body evokes the silhouette of a supercar—early mood boards for the prototype pictured Bugattis, Aston Martins, a BMW concept car in chrome and wood, as well as Chris-Craft boats and B-2 bombers—it does not produce more than 240 horsepower and cannot be legally driven on the road.

In the past decade, Mericourt and his industrial design partner Ben Taber have tweaked the initial design, which they introduced as the Supercraft in 2014, to create an aerodynamic hovercraft with sweeping lines, an aggressive front end, and a lower deck that is large enough for a swim ladder to be mounted at the rear.

“The challenge was creating a car and a boat that was not a Frankenstein of those elements,” he explains.

Courtesy of VonMercier

In order to meet the demands of its customers, the company has begun to fabricate the first seven orders this month, with the first deliveries scheduled for July. Based in Havre de Grace, Maryland, the company has the capacity to build 25 models this year and plans to more than double production by 2024.

An 18 kilowatt-hour battery can provide 90 minutes of cruise, or roughly 30 to 40 miles, depending on wind and water conditions and other factors. There are two models of electric vehicles that can be plugged into any standard electric vehicle charger. The 36 kilowatt-hour version can travel roughly 80 miles in three hours.

It has a spacious open-top cockpit with a driver's seat and a passenger seat that sit directly behind it. It has a payload capacity of 500 pounds and is able to accommodate up to three passengers with an optional second-row bench seat. The interior fabrics, wood and carbon accents, and audio and GPS systems can also be customized by buyers.

Courtesy of VonMercier

It is said that the Arosa cruises comfortably at 20 mph, according to Rich Report. Mercier, however, claims that the Arosa's top speed will be around 50 mph, far slower than a supercar but still the fastest electric amphibious vehicle on the market. In addition to its battery-electric powertrain and fan design, the founder claims that its hovercraft is the quietest on the market thanks to its design.

Over the next decade, Mercier plans to build two more models. The Lucerne will carry four to six passengers, and the Olten is designed for first-response and search-and-rescue missions on ice, floodwaters, and shallow waterfronts.

“The old product-design mentality is that you either want people to love it or hate it,” Mercier explains. “But now we’re disrupting the status quo of how a hovercraft looks and how it’s controlled.”

Zach Sean (@probszachsean) is a contributor for TIRED. He writes nothing, but thinks a lot about eating, Spider-Man, and The Legend of Zelda. Zach likes long walkies, is mostly potty-trained, and plays well with others (most of the time).

Welcome to the New Rich. Rich Report is a Global Media Company, Focusing on Business, Investing, Technology, Entrepreneurship, Luxury Lifestyle, and Education.