In 2018, the Finnish Axopar shipyard partnered with the luxury car maker Brabus to launch the Brabus Shadow 800, a tender/daycruiser produced in a limited edition with an exclusive construction method and materials. In 2019, the two partners repeated the operation with the Brabus Shadow 500 Black OPS, also produced in only 28 copies.
Let us go back a few years to understand the origin of this partnership. A customer who bought an Axopar boat had it customized by Brabus.
Following this first convincing experience, the two brands came together to produce a limited edition and market it. "We thought that since there was a demand, we were going to develop a boat. That's how the 800 Shadow was born, a limited edition of 20."
And to justify the merger with the car manufacturer, Jan-Erik Viitala, co-founder of Axopar, explains: "Brabus represents everything we were looking for. We have the same philosophy. They do the same thing we do on cars. We started this collaboration because we realized we had the same customers."
... at the launch of a brand
In view of the success of this first limited series, the two brands have decided to launch a joint project: Brabus Marine. The latter will market luxury boats by pooling Brabus' automotive customisation expertise with Axopar Boat's extensive marine experience. His objectif?? To be one of the top 10 luxury powerboat brands.
"Through Brabus Marine, Axopar approaches high-end customers. To make a comparison with the automotive world, with Axopar, we offered BMWs, with Brabus Marine, we offer Porsche or Bentley. There is more luxury on board, more power, but also new technologies" explains Jan-Erik Viitala, co-founder of the Axopar brand.
The first model in this range will be the Brabus Shadow 500, a 28-foot weekendender, capable of reaching 50 knots thanks to its 2x250 XS Pro V8 FourStroke from Mercury Marine. This model is finished in gel coat (3 colors) which distinguishes it from the Exclusive edition. The latter is delivered with a luxurious deep gloss paint.
Other 30 to 45 foot models are in development and should be available in 2020.
The best of both worlds
While Brabus Marine boats are built on the existing hulls of the Axopar models (the Shadow 800 uses the Axopar 37 hull and the Shadow 500 the Axopar 28 hull), the latter are modified to support more power. The transom is reinforced, as is the structure, to accommodate a larger engine. The Axopars receive V6s and the Shadows receive V8s. "Boats are powerful, fast, but above all comfortable." explains the co-founder.
In addition to the motorization, which differentiates the two ranges, the quality of finish and equipment is much higher. The yard uses carbon, silvertex or state-of-the-art electronics and the boat is already sold fully equipped. While the basic version of the Brabus Shadow 500 is available in 3 gel-coat colours, the exclusive version is spray painted.
"Brabus boats are tenders, but can be used as daycruisers. The idea is to bring more fun and entertainment to owners using Brabus Car technology: performance, acceleration and luxury."
An exceptional boat
These luxury models are aimed at a niche market, at owners who are not new to the business and are looking for the exception. "The Brabus Shadow represents a good compromise between a RIB and a cruise ship. It offers the stability of the first and the comfort of the second."
The production of a Shadow is much longer and more expensive than a standard production. This is due to development costs, material quality, embedded technology and higher equipment levels.
For example, the time required to paint a limited edition Brabus Shadow is the same as to build 30 Axopar hulls of the same size.
Since October 2018, a new production plant dedicated entirely to the Brabus Shadow range has been built on the Axopar site.