As I’ve stated previously, one of the most noticeable changes to the market in 2019 has been the acceptance that the onset of greener technologies is an inevitability – not an option. The momentum has been moving in this direction for a number of years, but conversations relating to green technology and sustainability were previously punctuated by those individuals who felt that the superyacht industry would never become sustainable. While the realisation of a sustainable superyacht is still someway off, the tender market is due an imminent shakeup.
For The Superyacht Tenders Report, which was published on 24 July, we conducted a sentiment survey to determine how stakeholders felt about a number of issues relating to the ownership and operation of tenders. Chief among the various topics was the development of electric tenders (E-tenders). We asked stakeholders whether or not they believed that E-tenders will prove to be a popular option for superyacht owners and guests?
“Absolutely. Electric tenders will be the next big thing,” commented one stakeholder. Indeed, every single respondent believed that the proliferation of the E-tender market was a matter of when not if, variously citing benefits relating to the environment, noise & vibration and running costs. While there are a number of E-tender products available in today’s marketplace, many stakeholders have voiced concerns about the viability of the technology available.
“Obviously range anxiety is an issue"
“Obviously range anxiety is an issue,” “Currently, the battery life and achievable speed is a big limiting factor” and “Most owners would like a quiet tender, but this consideration seems to come after speed and range,” were among the common complaints.
These concerns relating to battery technology are echoed by some of the superyacht market’s premium tender manufacturers. “We have already looked into developing our own e-tender solution. However, until battery technology develops, we decided that the best solution for now was to develop a diesel-electric hybrid tender,” explains Richard Faulkner, founder and CEO of Compass Tenders. “Long-term, all tenders will be electric but I don’t know whether or not this future is hurtling towards us or creeping up on us.”
Indeed, Zodiac Nautic announced this week that it had boosted the performance of the Avon eJET 450 with the addition of Petestep hull technology. Avon, the e-tender manufacturer, has been developing the eJET 450 specifically for the superyacht market and, with the addition of the new technology, believes that it now has a product for yachts “with similar range and better onboard comfort.” However, while “over an hour of usage at planing speeds” is impressive, it still falls someway short of the performance expected of a traditional tender.
"E-tenders need to be able to offer the same performance, speed and range..."
“E-tenders need to be able to offer the same performance, speed and range before they will be a totally viable option for superyacht owners looking to move away from internal combustion engines,” adds Tom Southern, vice president of Pascoe International. “Pascoe have been working secretly on a very exciting development which will revolutionise the tender market and will soon make all of these qualities a reality… at this stage that is all I can say!”
For the moment, E-tender options are viable for those superyacht owners that feel passionately about the environment. The shortcomings of limited range and speeds can be mitigated by organisation. However, the aim for the superyacht market must be to produce E-tenders that are viable for all superyacht owners.
At The Superyacht Forum 2019 delegates will be asked to consider a whole host of issues relating to how the market is “Building for the Next Generation.” Among the various topics will be a focus on technology and sustainability. As the pressure increases on shipyards and designers to create ever more sustainable superyachts, it is imperative that tender manufacturers, as well as all other businesses, work towards a greener future. However, as Southern correctly points out, it will not be until E-tenders are of equivalent performance to traditional tenders that superyacht owners will be truly satisfied.
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