New Candela hydrofoiling water taxi goes 2 hours at 20 knots

Combining long range and high speed, the new Candela P-12 electric hydrofoiling water taxi takes the revolutionary technology of the head turning Candela 7 leisure boat and makes it available for commercial operators in a new 12 passenger vessel.

The hardware and software for the Candela hydrofoiling boats began to take shape in 2014, developed by a core team with serious credentials not just in boat construction and hydrodynamics, but also things like avionics, image & signal processing, dynamic modelling, control theory and machine learning. They created a proprietary flight controller/software/sensor system that gathers data from the hydrofoil wings as the boat moves and makes adjustments over 100 times each second.

Hydrofoiling requires 1/5 the power of traditional hulls

This all results in an incredibly smooth ride, more akin to flying than riding in a boat, and it turns out the key to getting a boat to move quickly through water for extended periods of time – is to get the boat out of the water! The energy efficiencies of reducing the drag of a hull by having the boat travel on hydrofoil wings enables an unmatched combination of speed and range.

electric hydrofoiling water taxi stern and bow viewThis energy efficiency is what makes a hydrofoiling water taxi appeal to commercial operators. Candela has done a comparison of its new 8.5 metre P-12 against fossil fuel water taxis on a variety of criteria and the first thing that sticks out is that the foiler only requires 44kW of power versus 258kW for a comparable non-flying hull. That means a lot less money going to fuel – especially when the fuel is low cost electricity.

It’s no secret the main thing that makes consumers take pause with purchasing an electric boat is the significant upfront cost of the battery. For commercial operators, the battery price is less of an issue. The more the boat is used, the faster the payback on that initial investment because of the reduced ongoing cost of the ‘fuel’.

Candela estimates that the cost of running a typical fossil fuel water taxi is about 5€ per hour (US$ 6.10) while the cost for a Candela P-12 is one fifth of that: €1 / US$1.22. If you’re running a boat with 12 paying passengers for 6 hours a day it doesn’t take long for that difference to pay for the battery and then start going into your pocket.

Hydrofoiling Candela P-12 versus traditional water taxis

Traditional water taxi Candela P-12 Reduction
Power needed 258kW 44kW 83% reduction
Energy consumption at service speed 12kWh / nautical mile 1kWh / nautical mile 92% reduction
Cost of fuel/electricity per hour at service speed* 15€ 2€ 87% reduction
Service cost per hour* 5€ 1€ 80% reduction

* = Assumed cost 0.6€/1l gasoline and 0.1€/kWh

Hydrofoiling water taxi is 3rd Candela model

While Candela’s electric hydrofoiling  does offer a smooth and thrilling ride (the P-12 has a top speed of 30 knots / 55kmh) that wasn’t the underlying reason for developing the technology. The company’s ultimate purpose “is to speed up the transition to fossil fuel-free lakes and oceans. By creating electric hydrofoil boats with better performance than the fossil fuel competition, we’re paving the way for zero-emission marine transportation.

It took 10,000+ hours of simulations, design iterations and sea trials for Candela to get its system right, but one of the advantages is that they don’t have to reinvent the hydrofoil for different sized boats.

The Candela 7 recreational speedboat was launched in 2019 and there is now high demand for it throughout Europe and North America. In March they announced that they were working with the city of Stockholm on a 30 passenger hydrofoiling ferry (the P-30) and now they have announced the hydrofoiling water taxi at the Salone Nautica in Venice, home of more than a few commercial passenger boats.

Usually a personal speedboat, 12 passenger taxi and 30 passenger ferry would require vastly different hull shapes and designs to optimize the way each moves through and rides on the water. That isn’t the case with hydrofoiling.

hydrofoiling water taxi P-12 and hydrofoiling ferry P-30 side by sideThere are variations on the size of motors and batteries required for the different Candela vessels, but the heart and brains of each – the Candela wings, sensors and stabilizing software – are essentially the same. Then the different hull sizes and seating specs are configured and added. The P-12  shares many components with its bigger sister, the P-30, like the ‘climate shell’ passenger area with 360º views.

Water taxis and small sightseeing boats are in use all over the world transporting all kinds of people to all kinds of places for all kinds of reasons and an electric hydrofoiling model could improve the experience in almost all of the cases.

Where speed is desired the Candela P-12 provides it – but with less noise, less wake, no emissions and a smoother ride for passengers. On tours of environmentally sensitive areas the electric boat allows passengers to get up close and personal with marine wildlife with minimal disruption of the habitat.

In the world of electric cars we’re seeing how larger commercial vehicles like buses, delivery vans and work trucks are speeding the transition away from fossil fuels because they make so much financial sense. The Candela P-12 offers the same benefits for commercial boats. It makes switching from ICE to electric an easy decision, with no trade-off between economy and environment. The P-12 is available for pre-order on the Candela website and deliveries will begin in late 2022.

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