2020 electric boat milestones from around the world

While we all know about the challenges of 2020, electric boat milestones provided lots of good news last year around the development, promotion and expansion of clean, quiet boating.

So here’s a celebratory look back at some of those completed projects, which are now landmarks in the continuing history of electric boats and boating. There were dozens of breakthroughs by different companies and innovators, but this look at 2020 is meant to capture the milestones that were either national or world firsts.

What is even more exciting is that there will certainly be many more electric boat milestones in the upcoming year, as many projects that had been originally planned for 2020 were delayed but are now moving towards completion.

Stay tuned!

Electric boat milestones 2020: click on any of the headlines or photos below to go to the original Plugboats story.

Canada: 1st lithium-ion boat approved for paying public passengers

electric boat milestones- the Canadian li-ion workboat with indigenous art on hullThe Alutasi is a classic Cape Islander-style lobster boat converted to an electric hybrid deep sea fishing charter boat that can carry up to 25 anglers. It is the first commercial passenger boat with lithium-ion batteries approved by Transport Canada. The safeguards had to pass particularly stringent regulations before the boat was okayed to carry members of the paying public.

Dr. Sue Molloy, a professor of tidal power engineeering at Dalhousie University, oversaw a team at Glas Ocean Electric that did the conversion. The hull is decorated with a mural of various ocean animals by indigenous artist Alan Syliboy of the Mi’kmaq (pronounced meeg mah) First Nations and the name Alutasi is Mi’kmaq for ‘a boat that guides to the best fishing’.


UK: 1st electric ferry

In mid-October the first electric ferry in the UK set off on a series of trials in preparation to carry paying passengers in April 2021. The ‘e-Voyager’ is a refit and conversion with a 400V motor and repurposed Nissan Leaf battery to replace an old 60HP diesel. e-Voyager will service the 8 minute run from Plymouth to Cremyll. Three 22kWh shore chargers in Plymouth will charge the ferry overnight. That should provide enough power for a full day’s use, but the boat can also plug in and recharge between runs as passengers embark.

World’s first electric tall ship

electric boat milestones - Zebu tall ship with sails down at sunset

The ‘Zebu’ is a tall ship built in 1938 to transport cargo on the Baltic Sea. She is rumoured to have served the Polish Army in WWII, she definitely was launched by HRH Prince Charles in 1984 to begin a four year expedition as part of Operation Raleigh, an international student training expedition that saw her visit 41 countries, and she now sports a new 200Kw DC Axial Flux Motor and Lithium-ion 96 AmpHour battery.


Norway: World’s 1st all-electric charter fleet

electric boat milestones - Greenline 33 yacht

Greenline Yachts and local dealer W-Yacht have collaborated with new service Canal Boats Telemark to provide a fleet of six Greenlines powered fully by Torqeedo motors and battery system. They will be available for charter beginning in May for visitors to cruise the 105 km Telemark canal, a living heritage site and one of Norway’s most beautiful and popular recreational waterways.

World’s 1st all-electric boat sharing service

Electric boat sharing service Kruser was launched in 2020 with two Oslo locations as an affordable and environmentally better alternative to boat ownership. A seasonal membership costing NOK 26,400 (US$ 3,000 • € 2,500) provides access to a fleet of GreenWaves 601 electric cruising boats without the member needing to worry about insurance, dock space, or other sundry boating details. They are now working with e-outboard manufacturer Evoy to have a planing boat designed and built to expand the available fleet for the 2021 season.


Turkey: World’s 1st all electric tugboat

electric boat milestones- tugboat in Istanbul harbour A harbour port near Istanbul is home to the world’s 1st fully operational all electric tugboat and is expected to prevent the emission of 210 tonnes of CO2 and nine tonnes of NOx in its first year of work.The tug is owned by GISAS Shipbuilding and was built by ZEETUG Zero Emission Electric Tug boat – with design by Navtek Naval Technologies. ZEETUG has two more all-electric tugs under construction that will be ready in 2021.


New Zealand: 1st all electric commercial boats

electric boat milestones - the Capone boat speeding along coast in new Zealand

Sean Kelly, a New Zealand boater with two America’s Cup campaigns under his belt, leads a team at Electric Boats NZ that has designed and built this 6 metre open aluminum hull electric boat and a 10.2 meter power catamaran available both all electric and as a hybrid. The 6m model has a 120kW motor hooked up to a standard Mercruiser SE116 outdrive – and delivers a top speed of 30 knots (55 km/h) with cruising speed of 16 kts/30 kmh).


Worldwide: The 1st international awards for electric boats and boating: ‘The Gussies’

electric boat milestones - three winning boats from The Gussies awards

To honour the many electric boats and boating initiatives like those above (and many more), 2020 also saw the launch of the Gustave Trouvé Awards for Excellence in Electric Boats and Boating.M. Trouvé was a prolific inventor with over 75 patents, and these awards were named in his honour because he presented the world’s first outboard boat motor – an electric motor – in Paris on May 26, 1889.

Voting started in the inaugural Gussies on the same date 141 years later.

After an initial voting round and the selection of finalists, on July 27, 2020 – the 118th anniversary of Trouvé’s death – the winners were announced after the tallying of more than 10,000 votes cast from all over the world.

The 50 boats nominated for the awards represented 19 countries of manufacture: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA

Awards were presented in three categories

  • Electric Boats Under 8 metres / 26 feet. Winner: Avon eJet 450 Tender – France
  • Electric Boats Over 8 metres / 26 feet. Winner: Aquanima 40 – Singapore and UK
  • Electric Boats Designed for Paying Passengers. Winner:  Aditya Solar Ferry – India

Congratulations to all of the nominees, finalists and winners – as well as everyone who voted. You are truly changing the world.

Preparations for the 2021 Gustave Trouvé Awards are underway and the competition promises to be even bigger and better as the world of electric boating continues to grow and thrive.

Look out 2021! More electric boat milestones are on the horizon!

Exciting things are happening every day in electric boats and boating.
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