TWO boat builders are joining forces to develop electric craft for commercial and leisure use.

RS Electric Boats, based at Hamble Point, and Cheetah Marine, from Ventnor on the Isle of Wight, say they will start with a new generation of electric workboats.

The workboats will be launched in spring 2023, with the first of them to be displayed at the leading boat show Boot Dusseldorf.

The collaboration will be officially launched next month and the two companies will exhibit side by side at Seawork in Southampton from June 21-23.

RS says future boats produced by Cheetah will come with the ability to retro-fit electric propulsion.

First steps in the partnership include taking Cheetah Marine's catamaran designs and finding synergies with RS Electric Boats' electric-specific boat design.

The companies aim to produce electric workboat catamarans suitable for a wide range of applications.

They say they will benefit from shared admin, marketing and manufacturing, and that Cheetah will benefit from RS's mass production and logistical capabilities.

Jon Partridge, chief executive of RS’s marine group of businesses, said: "Cheetah Marine is very well respected. Sean Strevens, its founder, has been developing his designs for 30 years, creating catamarans to handle rough seas and beach safely in surf.

“He's got customers ranging from expedition skippers to patrol personnel with hydrographic surveyors and more in the middle. His innovative design was originally for him to conquer surf when commercial fishing. It's a proven concept and he's sold over 600."

Cheetah Marine founder Sean Strevens said: "RS Sailing's knowledge of lightweight materials, and RS Electric Boats’ experience of designing electric specific craft are invaluable.

"They're both companies who innovate and deliver. Their experiences – working to solve the challenges that their customers and the environment face – mirror ours, which is why we're bringing the two together to mould commercial electric catamarans."

Cheetah Marine is currently developing zero-emissions catamarans in its Portugal factory, using experience developed from building a hydrogen internal combustion engine (HICE) powered Cheetah in 2015.

Mr Patridge said: "We already have the greatest infrastructure on the planet. Every pontoon has charging on it.

“Couple that with adventure boats for the whole family to enjoy as there's space on a catamaran to carry all the toys – for example, while one parent fishes, the other can paddleboard and the children can kayak – and you've got a stable, attractive, environmentally friendly combination."