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VOLVO PENTA STARTS ELECTRIC PROPULSION FERRY TRIALS

Friday, May 31, 2019 

Volvo Penta has partnered with ferry operator Styrsöbolaget to introduce electric propulsion to its ferry Älvsnabben 4.

The pilot test, part of the pioneering ElectriCity project, a collaboration between industry, academia and local government, could result in electric-powered ferry link both sides of the Göta Älv River.

Älvsnabben 4 will be converted into an electric propulsion vessel in collaboration with Styrsöbolaget and the Volvo Group. The refit is scheduled to begin in early 2020, but before then the electric propulsion system that will be used to replace the ferry’s diesel engine-powered marine driveline is being thoroughly evaluated in one of Volvo Penta’s own test boats.

The test vessel – known as PTA81 – is slightly smaller than the ferry, but it has the same batteries, controllers and electric motors that will be used on the Älvsnabben 4.

PTA81 is one of a fleet of vessels berthed at Volvo Penta’s own testing marina in Krossholmen, giving the company a unique advantage when it comes to real-world development. The conversion of PTA81 took under four months, and now a period of on-the-water tests will start.

“The conversion itself went smoothly,” said Niklas Thulin, Director Electromobility, Volvo Penta, adding: “We are learning valuable lessons about designing battery rooms and new opportunities with weight distribution, which will give us the ability to better optimize the balance and ride quality of vessels.”

The plan is to start the conversion of the Älvsnabben 4 early next year, with the ambition of the ferry entering traffic at the end of 2020. While this is underway PTA81 will continue to be tested so that the technology is thoroughly understood and robust before the ferry goes into operation on a public route.

“This gives us time to validate the installation’s performance, noise and vibration levels, as well as its drivability,” said Thulin. “For sure, the electric driveline will have different dynamics compared to a combustion engine. Our objective is to fine tune these to improve the experience, but not make it so different that the vessel’s crew need to be re-trained.”

The development of the PTA81 prototype has been a collaborative effort between Volvo Penta and the Volvo Group, with considerable sharing of technology. The Volvo Penta electromobility team is growing rapidly.

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