DAME Design Award winner 2016: New age for sail drives

DAME Design Award winner 2016: New age for sail drives

Kim Hollamby
Tuesday, 15 November 2016

“We think the Cruise FP range represents the coming of age for electric propulsion on sailing boats.” This is a bold claim from Torqeedo GmbH’s CEO Dr Christoph Ballin, but one that was given a significant boost by the announcement today that this innovative line-up of fully integrated electric saildrives had been named overall winner of the DAME Awards 2016.

By Kim Hollamby: METSTRADE Online Community reporter

“Looking at automotive sector, electric vehicles have about one or two per cent of the market,” Dr Ballin explains, “but at least all manufacturers offer an option now. We’re not there yet with boat builders, but we hope to do something about that with this product.

“With all of our experience of electric mobility solutions, we know it’s not sufficient to claim sustainability as the main selling point. You have to offer a better user experience and a sustainable option – then we know people will buy it. For that reason we have made the Cruise FP range sustainable, lightweight, cost effective and have worked hard on the user experience. We have also planned for future improvements.

“In terms of sustainability, we know that the Cruise FP will generate less greenhouse gas emissions compared to an equivalent internal combustion saildrive, even if you take into account manufacturing and a relatively dirty way of generating the electricity. It is much cleaner when measuring hydrocarbons, NOx and particulates.

“Competitive sailors will be pleased that, like for like, the Cruise FP weighs much less than a conventional power source. And the price point is competitive too, so electric is the better option, not just the environmentally correct one."

“User experience is vital. The throttle is not only designed to look good but also has practical features such as a neutral lock and grip that won’t snag ropes. The user display is very attractive and its computer connects to Torqeedo’s TorqTrac smart phone app – a mini chart plotter that shows estimated time and range.”

Dr Ballin is keen to emphasise that this is just the start of a journey for this product and points already to innovative uses for the new design: “Hanse has integrated the pod motor directly into a yacht rudder, so there is just one hole through the hull to carry the rudder stock and cable. They have allowed the rudder to swing through a large arc, so it can act as a stern thruster to help less experienced people dock comfortably.

We already offer an optimised set of lithium batteries to match the Cruise FP, although it also works well with AGM batteries too. We are working on lithium battery development, to drive down prices and we’ve recently signed a co-operation agreement with BMW to share battery technology.

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