A Lear without wings

Business Jet Traveler » June 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009 - 5:00am

It doesn't have wings and doesn't fly, but it's definitely a Lear, as its sleek lines and innovative design suggest. The Lear204, a 20-foot electric boat, will carry 11 passengers 50 miles on a fully charged set of batteries at a cost of about $2. What's more, it comes by the Lear name honestly: Shanda Lear-Baylor, the eldest daughter of Learjet creator Bill Lear, developed the fiberglass craft with her husband, Terry Baylor.

Lear-Baylor said she doesn't consider a boat such an odd thing for a daughter of Bill Lear to design. "Remember, my dad also invented the car radio and the eight-track cassette," she said. "[He] always said if you want to make money, find out what people need and give it to them."

For Lear-Baylor, the Lear204 project began about 10 years ago, when she met Terry, who at the time was experimenting with the idea of an electric boat. After spending $4.5 million in investment capital and going through several years of testing and refinement, the Lear204 is now ready to be sold, she said.

The boat's 5-mph cruise speed will hardly leave the ghost of Bill Lear breathless, but it's not being targeted to those with a need for speed. Florida, the initial target market, has more than 700 miles of restricted waterways "and not one electric boat," Lear-Baylor said, adding that much of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and thousands of small lakes have speed restrictions of four to six knots.

Starting at $40,000, the Lear204 features power steering, a small lavatory and a JBL sound system that includes a CD player, a 600-watt subwoofer and an iPod jack. Add a soft top, fixed hardtop or retractable hardtop and the price jumps $10,000. But, Lear-Baylor pointed out, with its sink and toilet it qualifies as a second home, allowing the owner to deduct the interest on the loan.

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Quote/Unquote

““CEOs go to their vacation homes just after companies report favorable news, and CEOs return to headquarters right before subsequent news is released. More good news is released when CEOs are back at work, and CEOs appear not to leave headquarters at all if a firm has adverse news to disclose. When CEOs are away from the office, stock prices behave quietly with sharply lower volatility. Volatility increases immediately when CEOs return to work.” —David Yermack, a New York University finance professor, whose recently released study shows a correlation between when CEOs take their private jets on vacation and movements in their companies’ stock price ”

-David Yermack