Volkswagen eyes the sun and sea, starts solar-electric yacht project
Volkswagen might be a major brand in the automotive arena, but the German conglomerate aims to scale new heights with new and innovative projects. Volkswagen’s quest for new and green energy solutions is nothing new, as in the post Dieselgate period, the company has accelerated the project of electrification. Now, it is aiming to conquer the sea with solar power.
To put it simply, Volkswagen has started a solar-electric yacht project based on its popular MEB architecture that underpins several of its new generation cars. The CUPRA team of VW is working on the design of this yacht in partnership with Silent Yachts, which is known as the 'Tesla of the Seas' because they manufacture solar and battery-powered boats.
The upcoming Volkswagen-Silent Yacht solar-powered boat will be powered by the MEB electric powertrain that is used in cars like the ID.3 and ID.4. The two companies plan to launch the first yacht in the water sometime in 2022 and ramp up production to about 50 vessels every year. These yachts would be sized over 50 feet and will come with six batteries onboard generating 500 kW of power output.
The Silent Yacht is known for producing solar-powered boats that can be of 10-26 kW power capacity. These boats come equipped with 150-532 kWh battery capacity. The latter is equivalent to the energy capacity of more than five Tesla Model S electric sedans. The Silent Yacht has so far delivered 11 electric yachts and currently witnessing strong demand.
With Volkswagen’s ambition to make solar-powered yacht, the German brand has joined hands with Silent Yacht, as part of an entrepreneur program.
Talking about the project, Michael Jost, head of group strategy product and CSO of Volkswagen brand, said, “Within the Volkswagen Group, we have set up an innovation fund to promote innovative business ideas. About 18 months ago, I was presented with a project to use the MEB in a yacht. At first, I thought the idea was absurd. But then we got to know the potential partner, Silent-Yachts. We were impressed by how committed the company is to the topic of CO₂ neutrality as a supplier of solar-electric powered yachts and has long been considered a sustainability pioneer in the industry."
Jost also said that he discussed with Michael Köhler what the company could deliver in a co-operation. “Our Spanish CUPRA colleagues supply the design and we supply the MEB-based powertrain – i.e., batteries, pulse-controlled inverters and the engines from the Volkswagen portfolio. Our software partners also adapt applications – a pulse-controlled inverter is programmed differently for a car than for a yacht. Silent-Yachts can also further adapt the interfaces of our software for their needs. Our current plan is to install up to six batteries per yacht and to enable 500 kW power for yacht sizes around 50 feet plus," added Jost.