Michael Mercier is only 36, but the crafty entrepreneur is bridging the gap between the automotive, the marine, and the entertaining.
Mercier has designed a battery-powered electric personal hovercraft that can resemble luxury cars like a Ferrari, Bugatti, or a Corvette. Dubbed the Arosa, the machine uses a trio of electric motors and operates as a fully functional amphibious vehicle that can travel by both land and sea.
His VonMercier Hovercraft Company is on a flier too, having crowdfunded over $100,000 USD from 185 investors in December 2022 alone to help bring the machine to market.
With the force created by its electric motors, the Arosa hovers 6" off the ground, allowing it to traverse nearly any terrain from open water, to dry land, sand, or snow.
It can cruise at roughly 20 mph (32 km/h), but can peak at over 50 mph (80 km/h) and uses its own unique propulsion and maneuvering system. The 'wheels' of the car-themed frame serve as the fans for the electric motors, while the maneuvering system uses thrust to push it ahead or backwards relative to the driver's input.
The cockpit is nearly identical to a car with a steering wheel, a gas pedal, a 'brake' pedal, and a digital dashboard. The main difference is that the driver is seated in the centre of the unit, while an optional passenger compartment can be included directly behind. The Arosa generates an impressive 240 horsepower, which is more than enough to generate serious speed.
Mercier told Robb Report his subscription to Boys' Life as a youth nurtured his penchant for entrepreneurship: “It was the kind of magazine where you could get X-ray glasses, sea monkeys—that sort of thing. 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 told the publication. “My mind was just blown.”
That early inspiration, coupled with an unwaring intrigue about the physics of flying, kept Mercier devoted to mechanical engineering throughout high school and college.
“The idea for a better hovercraft was always in my head” Mercier told Robb Report. “It hadn’t caught on like ATVs or Jet Skis. The idea of personal hovercraft got left behind.”
Maybe the time is now.
The Arosa isn't exactly cheap with a $200,000 expected price tag, but name a vehicle that can serve as a boat, a car, and an all-terrain vehicle in one platform that isn't already limited to military use.
But despite the price tag, orders are coming in at a steady clip. Mercier and company already have seven customer orders on the go. Their VanMercier Hovercraft HQ in Havre de Grace, Maryland, can currently build about 25 units per year but the demand has forced them to already explore expansion.
There's a fair bit of customization available for the Arosa, too, which is fair if you're on the hook for a $200k hovercraft. Prospective owners can choose from two different battery types depending on their intended usage -- an 18 kW battery with a range of 30-40 miles or an upgraded 36 kW battery that can cover over 80 miles with a three hour runtime. Both options use 400 V lithium-ion batteries.
Regardless of your choice, your Arosa can be plugged into the same electric-vehicle (or electric boat) charging stations available at gas stations and marinas.
The Arosa also comes with several car-like features including a customizable interior, a digital dash, wood and carbon fiber accents, an audio system, and GPS. It also has a very manageable LOA of only 16' (4.9 m), a width of 7'8" (2.4 m), and a dry weight of 950-1390 lbs (408-630 kg). Basically, it's the perfect size for a trailerable dayboat. With the optional rear passenger compartment it can hold up to three passengers and a payload of 500 lbs for peak performance.
Mercier has plans for the future, too. The burgeoning company is already working on a new larger model called the Lucerne. The beefed-up brother to the Arosa will be built for 4-6 passengers. Another model specifically for first responders and search and rescue is also in development.
Check out the Arosa in action below: