The E’Lab, an Excess 15 catamaran with Deep Blue Hybrid, was nominated in the category of Collaborative Solution between Boat or Superyacht Builder and its Supply Chain Partner recognizing ‘boat builders and supply chain partners that have collaborated from a conceptual stage to develop a particular solution to a design challenge, innovation or efficiency improvement.
Collaboration includes online public forum
The three companies have been working together to bring the first installation of Torqeedo and ZF’s new Deep Blue 50 kW saildrives to life in an Excess 15 catamaran. The project is part of the global Groupe Beneteau strategy outlined at the Cannes Yachting Festival in September, when they announced electric propulsion initiatives for Excess, Beneteau and powerboat brand Delphia.
The collaboration also extended to the general public with the Excess Lab, an online forum that connects Excess experts directly to their owners and potential owners. Onboard energy management and questions about alternative propulsion are some of the most popular topics and helped the companies define what sailors actually want from a hybrid sailing yacht. The feedback and interaction of ideas is a big help in developing the right product and services for electric and hybrid sailing to reach a mainstream audience.
ZF and Torqeedo coming together was the first step in this collaboration. The work on developing the Deep Blue 50kW saildrive as part of the overall Deep Blue system architecture began in February of 2020 and the resulting product was announced as part of Torqeedo’s new line for 2021.
“From the beginning, there was quite a good strategic fit between both companies,” said Massimiliano Cotterchio, head of sales and marketing for ZF Padova. “Torqeedo brought in a wide experience on the electrical side. Combined with our mechanical experience and 20 years of market experience in saildrives it resulted in a very successful product.”
“The plan is to develop a full range of Excess electric sailboats”
When Excess came on board, the first application was defined and the business of designing the perfect system was underway. The partnership has enjoyed the full support of all three companies’ engineering, production and product management teams. The yacht has been extensively tested and continues to be optimized almost daily, partly due to information from the online forum. The Excess 15 is very much a living laboratory, a model of a collaborative solution, and a glimpse of more to come.
“This is the first step,” said Thibaut de Montvalon, Excess Brand Director. “The plan is to develop a full range of solutions depending on the size of the boat, for different models with Torqeedo engines and equipment.”
The Excess 15 model is the largest in the company’s line of catamarans, and the E’Lab has twin Deep Blue 50 kW electric saildrives developed with ZF, two Deep Blue high-capacity Li-ion batteries, and a complete onboard energy management system which keeps the pilot constantly informed of how much power is being consumed and generated by each component.
That includes monitoring the generation of electricity through hydrogeneration, sometimes called ‘regeneration’. When the system detects that the yacht is sailing in good winds, Deep Blue automatically uses the spinning of the propellers from the water motion to charge the high-voltage battery bank.
Charged via shore power or hydrogeneration
The system includes a DC-DC converter to keep a 12V battery bank for hotel loads fully charged and a DC-AC inverter for larger loads like the air conditioning and watermaker. On the yacht’s first long test sail, the hydrogeneration system easily provided enough electricity to power one hundred per cent of the onboard hotel loads at a cruising speed of seven to eight knots.
The Excess 15 can also be recharged via shore power. The system is completed by two diesel range extenders for backup power in case of extended bad weather or when long-distance motoring is required.
“We are proud to work with industry leaders like Excess Catamarans and ZF,” said Dr Ralf Plieninger, managing director of Torqeedo (shown in the photo above with Philip Goethe, Torqeedo’s Director of Project Sales. “We could not ask for more professional or visionary partners to help drive the future of the marine industry.”