Volvo Penta and Fountaine-Pajot are showcasing a concept electric sailing catamaran at the Cannes Yachting Festival 2019. Volvo Penta has altered its Saildrive system into an electric prototype to make this possible.

A twin installation of the electric prototype has been fitted to a Lucia 40 catamaran, built by Fountaine Pajot. Electric sailing offers near-soundless, low vibration operation, silent mooring and emission-free sailing.

More Power and Torque

The technology behind the electric Saildrive is based on Volvo Group’s proven designs for electromobility – and many components are shared. Li-ion battery packs power an electric motor, which in turn drives the Saildrive propeller. The system offers more power and torque at low speeds compared to a similar diesel engine.

Zero-emission Operations

The onboard amenities – including air-conditioning – can be powered from the system’s battery packs in silence for up to twelve hours. Depending on speed and sea conditions, the technology has the potential for up to four hours/twenty nautical miles of zero-emission electric cruising, perfect for when operating in sensitive or restricted areas.

A more typical scenario would be to use the electric Saildrive for manoeuvring into-and-out-of harbours, and for powering hotel loads (amenities onboard like air conditioning, et cetera).

Advanced Electronic User Interface

Volvo Penta’s Electronic Vessel Control 2 (EVC2) system has been adapted for a Saildrive application. This features the company’s latest controls and a new driver interface that manages navigation and battery monitoring.

‘Introducing a monitoring and navigation display integrated with information from the electric driveline would offer sailboat owners improved functionality, simpler operation as well as easy and safe manoeuvring in harbours or marinas,’ says Peter Granqvist, Chief Technology Officer at Volvo Penta.

Seeking Industry Feedback

Björn Ingemanson, President of Volvo Penta: ‘We are demonstrating the system on the water in a bid to encourage feedback from users and boat builders alike. This is the latest example of Volvo Penta gathering market feedback at early stages of a new technology’s development, in order to challenge our assumptions and refine product characteristics.’

Technical Specs of the Lucia 40 Demo Boat

  • Quiet mooring up to twelve hours from battery power (for example no genset running to power air conditioning).
  • Responsive low-speed maneuvering with high torque/thrust.
  • Electric propulsion 2×15 kW:
    • Electric range approximately 27 NM@5 knots and 17 NM@6 knots.
    • Top speed: 8 knots, maximally one hour.
    • 2 x 5 kW chargers.
    • Genset 2 x 7.2 kW.
  • ZeroBatteries 2 x 20 kWh, charging time three hours.