Commentary: Amped Up on Cigarette’s Electric Top Gun


So let’s deal with the three big knocks on Cigarette Racing Team’s recent Miami International Boat Show release of a 38’ Top Gun with Mercedes-AMG Electric Drive technology:

•It can only run for about an hour on more than two tons of Lithium-ion batteries.

•If it were for sale right now—it’s not—it would sport a sticker price of more than $5 million

•Though the Cigarette folks predict it will have a top speed of more than 110 mph with those batteries driving 12 electric motors, the boat has yet to touch the water.

Did I miss anything? Maybe the color of the boat is not your taste. Hell, it’s certainly not mine.

All of which completely misses the point.

The Cigarette-Mercedes-AMG Electric Drive Top Gun is not a product of today—nor is it really meant to be—that could, would or should replace the internal-combustion-engine beauties we all love. It is a product of tomorrow. For as Peter Kagi, one of the top engineers from Mercedes-AMG, told me during an exclusive interview at the show:

“Five years ago, if you said AMG is building an electric sports car people would have laughed. But now we have it. I think we will see many things in this field.”

But here’s what the electric Cigarette is right now: An incredible marketing vehicle and proof positive of the legitimate partnership, one that now includes actual technology, between Cigarette and Mercedes-AMG.

To the first point on marketing, you have to imagine that this 38-footer might find its way onto a Discovery Channel show or two. (I have no confirmation of that, but heck they make Coke-propelled rockets on that channel.) And it wouldn’t be a big stretch to see it on the cover of Popular Mechanics or Popular Science, not to mention any number of automobile publications—next to the new SLS AMG Electric Drive Coupe, of course.

To the second point on technology, the first collaboration between Cigarette and Mercedes-AMG a few years back produced a 46-footer with special Mercedes-AMG Alubeam paint and Mercedes-AMG-inspired styling cues. The most technologically advanced aspect of the boat was its pair of quad overhead cam, turbocharged 1,350-hp Mercury Racing engines designed and built right here in the good old U.S.A. So I understood—and frankly shared to some degree—the feeling that the whole project was a bit underwhelming.

But now? Well, if you don’t believe the Cigarette-Mercedes-AMG relationship and collaboration is legit, there’s nothing I can write or say that will change your mind. Much as I don’t like to resort to clichés, haters gonna hate. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.

As for me, well, I am quite obviously amped up on the Cigarette E-Drive Top Gun. I have not been this pumped about a new product since Mercury Racing unveiled the game-changing 1350

Which also, as noted above, debuted in a Cigarette.

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