With its combination of Italian flair, love of technology, precision tooling and exquisite levels of finish, Persico Marine’s contribution to the world of electric-powered motorboats was never going to be anything other than eye-catching. Especially when the legendary heritage and style that accompanies the ‘Zagato’ name is attached for good measure.
This beautiful and impressively engineered electric runabout is born from a partnership between Persico Marine and Zagato Atelier – two iconic and proudly Italian brands, both world leaders in their respective fields.
Unlike most of the other famous Italian coachbuilders that have made (and continue to make) car design history, the background of Zagato Atelier is not in the traditional industry of building horsedrawn carriages, but at the cutting edge of early aviation. Ugo Zagato founded his company in 1919 after working in the design office of a biplane manufacturer. His aim was to transfer the sophisticated construction techniques that he had developed in his previous job – combining light weight with strength – from aircraft to automobiles. Part of this heritage can be found today, more than a century later, in the electric runabout project.
Just under 7.9m long with a maximum beam of 2.45m, the Persico Zagato 100.2 Limited Launch Edition will be trailerable and thus easy for its owners to transport between lakes and sea. Built with state-of-the-art composite materials, the PZ 100.2 will have a total displacement of just 2,500kg including the lithium batteries that power the DeepSpeed electric jet propulsion system developed by Sealence.
Top speed is estimated at 40 knots and cruising speed at 26 knots, so the PZ 100.2 is expected to be right at the top of the emerging class of 100 per cent electric runabouts. Designed for day cruising and commuting in all types of coastal and inshore waters, it is an ideal boat for use on lakes, many of which have already banned combustion engines. The PZ 100.2’s typical range is estimated at 28 nautical miles, which is ample given that a day cruise on a lake will usually cover about 15 miles. Its range can be doubled with the option of an oversized 83kW battery pack, which will however increase the boat’s displacement by about 500kg.
A winning season
There have been lots of reasons for Persico Marine to celebrate this year, with many sailing yachts they built or fitted out winning major races during the 2022 season.
Let’s start with the recent Route du Rhum where Thomas Ruyant’s LinkedOut won the ultra-competitive Imoca 60 class with a record-breaking time of 11d 17h 36m and 25 sec while Erwan Le Roux’s Koesio was the first Ocean Fifty across the finish line. The winning trimaran in the Ultime Class, Gitana XVII, was fitted with some Persico-made components as was Sodebo, on the third step of the podium. LinkedOut in particular achieved a remarkably long line of podium performances: second place in the Défi Azimut and third in the Vendée Arctique, not to mention victory at the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2021, a year in which it also took third in the Ocean Race Europe and the Défi Azimut.
Persico Marine’s boats also did well in inshore racing: the TP52 Phoenix finished second in the 52 Super Series, while at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in Porto Cervo Vesper dominated the MiniMaxi 1 division, followed by Proteus. At the Rolex Swan Cup, Pigi Loro Piana’s new ClubSwan 80 took the third step of the podium in Class A.
‘Persico Marine would like to thank all the protagonists,’ says CEO Marcello Persico, ‘and congratulate the owners, skippers and crews for the great results they achieved.
True to Zagato’s supercar heritage, the PZ 100.2 Limited Launch Edition is destined for just a few enthusiasts. Only nine will be produced and owners will be able to personalise them in a unique, exclusive way. The colours and finishes chosen by each owner at the time of ordering will not be repeatable by others. The path taken by Persico and Zagato is based on three essential qualities of technology, design and performance – and far from any sort of flamboyance or ostentation.
With this ‘little big’ open motor launch, Zagato and Persico have distilled their respective skills and know-how – as a designer and stylist on one hand, and as a a yacht builder with a unique level of construction finesse in carbon lamination on the other – into a winning combination that takes full advantage of aerospace technology.
‘With the Persico Zagato 100.2 we want to show what the future might hold, while following the path of our great heritage,’ says Marcello Persico, CEO of Persico Marine. ‘This boat takes up the tradition of the “canot automobile” of the early 20th century and brings it into the future, thanks to the expertise of all the parties involved, whom I thank most sincerely and who are – I like to stress this aspect – all Italian. At Persico Marine we have proved that we know how to build limited-series sailing boats and now this is our debut in the motorised small-series category with our own brand.’
Thus the Persico Zagato 100.2 is the result of a collaboration between two companies that are recognised around the world for their excellence and have a great history behind them. The 100.2 model name originated at Zagato and marked the start of the Milanese studio’s second century in business, still true to its founder’s original mission to “dress cars and planes with customised bodywork”. The PZ 100.2 project is a partnership that leverages the full extent of the two companies’ abilities; it is not merely a brand extension.
‘The project started from a shared concept: the idea that the boat should be a collection piece,’ says Andrea Zagato, CEO of ZED Milano. ‘The latest and most innovative technologies currently available will make the boat sustainable and destined to leave its distinctive mark, as is the case with the most highly regarded car models designed for uncommon customers, the ones always looking for excellence and innovation in any field.’
The underwater shape of the Persico Zagato 100.2 is a classic fast planing hull configuration developed by Davide Leone, founder and chief naval architect of the Leading Edge design team. The design has been optimised so that the boat’s centres of gravity and buoyancy are positioned to ensure peak efficiency not just in long-distance mode to achieve the maximum cruising range but also in full planing mode to reach maximum boat speed. This is the key trade-off for an electric boat: to maximise efficiency for both range and speed, which is something that takes the new PZ to the top of its category. ‘This was the crucial challenge at the basis of the naval architecture of this project,’ Leone explains.
‘The Persico Zagato 100.2 is a true electric boat – conceived as an electric boat from the start – and this makes it special and better than all the so-called “electric” boats derived from traditional fossil fuel-driven models.’
Zagato developed the design of the PZ 100.2 in collaboration with Micheletti + Partners. The style is characterised by a contemporary yet completely functional look, with nothing superfluous. ‘Building an electric boat powered by an aviation-type turbine engine means bringing to life all the inspirations of those who will be free to play with the power in silence, listening only to the wind and the water,’ says Lucio Micheletti.
Some of the boat’s aesthetic details recall key features of Zagato’s signature styling. The aerodynamic chine on its topsides echoes the distinctive shape of the Aston Martin DBS GTZ, a car created to celebrate Zagato’s first 100 years of history. Produced in a series of only 19 units, it was sold exclusively in pairs with a reissue of the legendary DB4 GTZ.
Another fundamental and innovative element of this next-generation motor launch is its engine, developed and supplied by Sealence, an Italian start-up founded by the entrepreneur William Gobbo. The revolutionary 205 kW DeepSpeed is an electric jet-pod marine engine derived from the reaction engines used in aerospace applications.
‘The strength of DeepSpeed lies in its greater efficiency compared with traditional propellers or hydro-jet systems, which become increasingly inefficient at higher speeds,’ Gobbo explains. ‘Thanks to the use of electric jet propulsion to generate the thrust as the boat accelerates, the DeepSpeed jets become more and more efficient.
‘Traditional water jets work by drawing water through an inlet in the hull and moving it towards the stern. DeepSpeed on the other hand is configured as an outboard jet with a dynamic inlet exactly like those found under the wings of aeroplanes and this choice proves to be a winning one because water enters naturally, as it does in aircraft engines, avoiding energy loss.
‘A thrust reverser is not needed during manoeuvres because the turbines can rotate in either direction, allowing for great manoeuvrability in all conditions.’
In an exclusive interview with Seahorse Magazine, Persico Marine’s CEO Marcello Persico shared some personal thoughts on the PZ100.2 and explained the strategic thinking that drives the company forward.
SH: For the PZ 100.2 Persico Marine is working in partnership with several style and design icons. Are these collaborations deliberate strategic choices?
MP: We started out as carbon specialists. I would dare say that today we have turned into innovation specialists. Over time we have managed to create unique projects, thanks to the combination of innovative technologies from our side and the design and style of big names on the other. We are now working with Zagato; in the recent past we have collaborated with Pininfarina, Wally, Nautor’s Swan and Hermès. I like to think that this is a combination of excellence that further enhances the qualities of the unique products we build.
SH: What technological and engineering challenges did you face with the PZ 100.2? Did the use of DeepSpeed require any special arrangements?
MP: The DeepSpeed system goes very well with boats where the aim is for optimisation between energy efficiency and performance. The PZ 100.2 can reach 40 knots and has an operational range of 28 miles at a cruising speed of 26 knots, which is a very respectable performance and superior to what the market offers. This is thanks to the DeepSpeed system, combined with the boat’s very light displacement, for which we have drawn on all our technologies to limit weight. In fact, the entire boat will be carbon fibre although we will apply wood veneer to offer the feeling of elegance that the owner expects.
SH: This is not the first motorboat with the Persico name but it is the first in a series, albeit small and limited to only nine examples. Coming from sailing at a higher level, what pushed you towards powerboats? Aren’t you afraid of losing the very specific DNA that gives Persico Marine its unique character?
MP: We are not looking for production volumes in the mass market of the marine industry, which is the motorboat sector. We are only interested in the motorboat world where projects seek performance and innovation. It is no coincidence that here we have the innovative DeepSpeed electric propulsion system, while the collaboration with Zagato offers a top-of-the-range uniqueness to the product.