Volkswagen’s MEB platform will be the basis for a new yachtFebruary 1, 2021
The Silent-Yacht 50 is just one of many examples of where Volkswagen plans to use its modular platform for electric vehicles.
For millennia, sailboats have been the only zero-emission vehicles on the planet. But later everything changed dramatically. Sure, sailboats have retained their carbon neutral propulsion forever, but solar powered yachts will soon be joining them.
In collaboration with solar electric yacht company Silent-Yachts, VW engineers are adapting their MEB modular architecture for use on the high seas. Both companies started working together in 2019. Silent-Yachts founders Heike and Michael Köhler have been trying to find a more sustainable way to navigate the sea since the start of research on alternative yachts in 2005. They built the first solar-powered marine yacht not only for propulsion, but to power all equipment on board in 2009. The ship, called Solarwave 46, grew into a 400-employee business that has since built a dozen solar-powered catamarans.
Silent-Yachts and VW will now launch a modular electric vehicle platform called MEB to lower the cost of producing zero-emission ships. As with electric vehicles, VW says that using an electric propulsion system means “less maintenance than a conventional yacht, as the electric drive system is less repairable than conventional engines.”
The VW-powered vessel will be named the Silent Yacht 50 and will use VW batteries, switching inverters and electric motors. The inverter will be programmed differently for use on a ship rather than a car, and Silent-Yachts will also change some of the programming interfaces. The Silent Yacht 50 will be able to use up to six batteries and have an output of 500 kW.
Volkswagen says its expanding yacht building partnership is a way to both spark interest in electric vehicles in general and prove that “driving pleasure, long distances, quiet cruising and pure mobility are also possible on the high seas.” However, while battery-powered yachting is entirely possible, all Silent-Yachts models have a back-up diesel generator on board in case of emergencies.
So VW delivers the powertrain, Silent-Yachts brings in the shipbuilding experience, and that leaves room for a third partner, the Seat Cupra subbrand, to help with the design. Automotive artists at Cupra “had to think completely differently about dimensions, proportions and surfaces,” Volkswagen officials said.
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