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ZF and Torqeedo electrify vessels with award-winning electric saildrives

by ZF Group 19 Nov 2021 07:28 PST

With the Deep Blue 50 SD, ZF and Torqeedo have successfully collaborated on a new range of emission-free propulsion systems.

  • Clean, quiet, powerful: Deep Blue 50 SD provides electric propulsion for emission-free docking, high-performance sailing and near-silent cruising
  • First market application, Groupe Beneteau's Excess 15 cruising catamaran, wins accolades at the METS Boat Builder Awards 2021

As proven during its premier application in Groupe Beneteau's Excess 15 cruising catamaran during the Cannes Boat Show: The saildrives offer clean, quiet and powerful thrust and manoeuvrability. Docking and sailing is now easier and more environment-friendly than ever. The drives also supply efficient hydrogeneration, keeping the on-board system charged while under sail, helping to further reduce the carbon-footprint of a variety of vessels, including sailing yachts, urban ferries and water taxis. The electric power system was among the winners of the 2021 METS Boat Builder Awards.

The thrill of racing, the efficiency of being in tune with nature, and the joys of relaxing at sea: for captains and passengers looking to have it all, a cruising catamaran like the Excess 15 is the perfect vessel.

Even more: the advantages offered by the new ship from Groupe Beneteau's Excess brand are elevated to an environmentally-friendly level with the Deep Blue 50 SD - a electric saildrive by ZF and development partner Torqeedo. This achievement has already been recognized at the 2021 Boat Builder Awards in Amsterdam, hosted by the world's biggest marine expo METSTRADE and trade publication International Boat Industry (IBI). Beating out five competing entries, the electric power system claimed first prize in the category "Collaborative Solution between Boat or Superyacht Builder and its Supply Chain Partner."

"At ZF, we are committed to electrify everything, be it on land or on the sea. The Deep Blue 50 SD makes cruising, docking and manoeuvring emission-free and nearly silent", says Daniel Haerter, ZF Senior Vice President Industrial Technology, Head of Business Unit Off High-Way, Test Systems, Marine and Special Driveline Technology at ZF. "The extremely professional collaboration between ZF, Torqeedo and Groupe Beneteau's Excess brand benefits both customers and the environment. Reaching a new market segment with our sustainable marine propulsion systems is truly a win for everyone - which is further emphasized by our victory at the 2021 METS Boat Builder Awards."

Successful maiden voyage

In the Excess 15, two Deep Blue 50 SD are combined into a bluewater sailing configuration, with Torqeedo supplying an electric motor and battery solution and ZF supplying its proven and benchmark saildrive technology. "In the Deep Blue SD 50, we successfully merged Torqeedo's expertise in electric drivetrains with ZF's know-how as the world's most experienced maritime transmission supplier. Together, we can offer customers a flexible product portfolio to suit every driveline need," says Dr. Ralf Plieninger, Managing Director of Torqeedo.

Together, the two drives generate 100 kW of power, which allows for speeds of up to 10 knots. Electric sailing - i.e., running the drives in low rpm-mode while under sail - lets the catamaran knife through water without the boost of fossil fuels. Energy recouperation under sail is more than sufficient to supply hotel loads while cruising, adding to the comfort of those onboard. With no need to start up a noisy fuel-powered generator, passengers can enjoy the downtime out on the seas in peace and quiet.

A perfect partnership

During the development of the Deep Blue SD range of saildrives, ZF and Torqeedo had specific types of vessels in mind. Sailing yachts were one of the first ships to migrate from combustion engines towards hybrid- and electric technology. With good cause, as they uniquely benefit from the advantages offered by said drives. When it came to sign a partner for the drive's first maiden voyage, Groupe Beneteau's Excess line of cruising catamarans were therefore first in line.

"In terms of philosophy, of culture, of spirit, we found a great fit with ZF and Torqeedo," says Thibaut de Montvalon, Brand Director of Excess. "We all want to innovate, we all want to be gamechangers, and with the Excess 15, we have succeeded."

Clean and quiet powerful propulsion

In a single motor configuration, the Deep Blue 50 SD offers 50 kW of power with a maximum propeller speed of 1.325 rpm and 425 Nm of torque. In addition to the Deep Blue 50 SD, ZF and Torqeedo are also developing a more powerful Deep Blue 100 SD that is aimed at manufacturers looking for a customized integration. With a variety of power outputs and battery options available, the Deep Blue SD range of drives is ideally suited for different vessel types in addition to catamarans, like sailing yachts, urban ferries and water taxis.

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