Alva Yachts set for bright future with solar investment
The German yacht builders are leading the way with solar technology in yachting…
Almost every superyacht builder in the world is vocalising their intention to build greener, smarter, more efficient superyachts. As a journalist, it can be tricky to weed out the greenwashing and beguiling promises from those who are making honest, but less flashy, strides toward sustainable solutions. It is almost refreshing to have to drag out the nuts and bolts of a company's green credentials as opposed to being bombarded with press releases using all too familiar corporate jargon. Alva Yachts are one of the few companies in yachting that seem to be approaching the environmental crisis with true intentions and a level head. The German company became established in early 2020 with the sole aim of making sustainable, avant-garde, electric yachts. While their solar roof system is a notable and newsworthy effort, the company admit that there is still much work to be done.
Today, it isn’t possible to say that electricity is always generated in a sustainable way. Elements, materials, manufacturing, transportation and the usage profile of yachts are all areas that need improvement, and these issues will not be fixed overnight. Despite the good intentions of the green energy push, the materials used for common solutions aren’t entirely perfect. In Chile, lithium mines have wreaked havoc on the Atacama salt flats, and in the Congo, the hunt for Cobalt - a metal that drastically reduces overheating in batteries- has created a humanitarian crisis in a number of Chinese-run mines. Alva Yachts are aware of the scale of the challenges facing them, and that to label a yacht as something that is ‘fully sustainable’ is much easier said than done.
Milan Henn, the Head of Design at Alva Yachts spoke exclusively with SuperyachtNews about the company's position in the current market. “For as far as our vision goes, we want to really try to be a leading brand for the solar power movement. With all the interest and the sales right now and the position we have in the market, we know that we are growing, growing quite quickly, and expanding our production as well this year again...
"We think next year will be our impact year where everybody will see that we can deliver on our goals.”
The yacht builders aren’t the only new company making headways in the ‘sustainable catamaran’ sector of the market. And whatever you may think of the actual specs and performance of their yachts, there is no denying that they have a certain quality that is clearly attracting new clients. Despite this, there is still a need to have a unique selling point that sets them apart from the competition.
Henn elaborates, “The unique selling point would be the quality of the yachts and the whole package that we do. With other brands, they usually have non-electric or non-solar boats that were done in a series and it’s just now that they are switching, so they just put the new technology on the old models and figure it out from there. With us, we built the brand and most of the boats from the ground up to be solar electric. So the technology we do is developed by us in-house and we are very proud and excited to be able to show that in the near future. I would say our unique selling point is the quality of boat building and the technology.”
The company have also been experimenting with ‘over-the-air connection’. With this technology, the shipyard will be able to communicate with its fleet in case there are ever any problems at sea. The CEO of Alva Yachts, Mathias May, explained that “This is something that a modern boat needs to have to be reliable and to support the customer in a proper manner.”
May continues, “One very profound thing that makes us different in the market is that we really have a lot more solar power than the other guys right now. So with the 90-foot model, we have 200 square metres of solar. So the boats can be completely self-sufficient and the self-sufficiency aspect is really a major key benefit...
"The solar panels will be able to look after the hotel load.”
Alva Yachts have effectively created a new customer base with their product - almost two-thirds of their clients are first-time boat owners. The company also say that the majority of their clients are the tesla-owning-tech-type folks who want to swap their workaholic lifestyle to spend the rest of their days on the water. They are UHNWIs who are interested in technology and sustainability but don’t necessarily want to be related to the traditional idea of a yacht owner.
Based on his interaction with clients, Henn believes that the number of boats in the of 90-120 feet will increase massively in the coming years. Before they move into a bigger yacht segment, the company must focus on the current challenges facing the entire new-build market. Although their order book reaches well into 2025, the company have had to raise the prices of all their yachts by at least 15 per cent. Compared to the same month last year, the cost of raw materials for their yachts has increased by a staggering 34 per cent. They had hoped to be able to compensate for the price increases by making further efficient measures, but due to the continuing price pressure, they concluded just a few weeks ago that it was no longer possible.
Despite these market-wide challenges, there is no doubt that Alva yachts have been able to tap into something special by carving out a little niché within a niché. But it is also their general attitude and approach towards improving the face of the industry that stands them in good stead and really sets them apart from the competition.
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