Cruising with a Conscience – Sustainable Travel Meets Electric Boats
At One Planet Journey we aim to bring you the best of sustainable tourism and luxury travel, and do we have something extra for you today. Revel in the exciting tale of Candela, the pioneers of electric boats and sustainable transport. Founded in 2014 by Gustav Hasselskog, the company’s goal was to make an electric boat with better performance than fossil fuel competitors, and accelerate the transition to lakes and oceans free of emissions. As you will learn, Candela is storming ahead, with one of their models becoming the 2020 best-selling electric boat in Europe.
To get the inside scoop, we chatted with Mikael Mahlberg, Head of PR and Communications at the Stockholm HQ. Read on and we’ll bet you want a test ride next!
How would you pitch Candela in a New York minute?
Candela makes the first electric boats with the unique combination of long range, high speed and low energy use. By lifting the hull above the water friction, we reduce power consumption by a staggering 80%, which not only matches fossil fuel vessels in performance, but goes beyond – unlocking the potential of our waterways for fast, energy efficient transport – both for commercial and leisure vessels.
The hydrofoil technology seems like a dream in terms of range and speed. Could you summarise the Candela tech and its major benefits?
Slung under the hull are two hydrofoils – wings – that provide enough lift at higher speeds to raise the boat above the surface of the water. This reduces hydrodynamical drag by 80%, and combined with an efficient drivetrain, Candela C-POD, we cut power consumption – from chemical energy in battery/diesel – to propulsion by some 90%, compared to a diesel vessel of the same size. Once the boat is “flying”, it is stabilised in real-time – 100 times per second – by the boat’s flight controller, which constantly adjusts the angle of attack of the hydrofoils, in order to keep the boat stable when in “fly” mode. It brings wave-induced motions to a minimum, virtually eliminating the risk of motion sickness for passengers. It’s like a train on tracks even in rough weather. Another benefit is the lack of wakes, which otherwise poses a significant problem as they damage shorelines and other vessels. Thus, Candela P-12 Shuttle, our first passenger ship, can operate at high speed in urban waters, which cuts travel times considerably.
Range anxiety is something your clients won’t have to worry about, but do electric boats need charging infrastructure like cars?
Our leisure model, Candela C-8, has a range of 57 nautical miles, which is plenty for a vessel of that class. It allows it to cruise, for example, the whole San Francisco Bay on one charge, or go from Stockholm to the outer archipelago and back. Three phase charging – the equivalent of type 2 for cars – is actually available in almost all marinas worldwide already, so charging for electric boats is much more convenient than finding an outlet for a car at the start of the EV era. Still – our C-8 uses a Polestar battery pack and fast charging tech, up to 135 kW. There’s a budding network of DC-chargers for boats across the world, which implies true long-range journeys – like Stockholm to Finland in a day. For conventional electric boats, DC-charging is a must since you only get around 20 nautical miles at high speeds.
The inevitable “Tesla on water” comparison floats around – but you collaborate with another electric car manufacturer, Polestar. Are batteries the same?
Yes. They are the same, however boats in the 25-feet category (standard family boat) use 15 times more energy per mile than cars. Which is why range is a problem in conventional vessels, given current battery technology.
Your shuttle model, P-12, is slated for use in Stockholm’s commuter traffic. When can we expect to see it in action and how does it change day to day commutes?
The city will use it from April 2024 and go from Ekerö to Stockholm in 25 minutes – revolutionising the daily commute for thousands of people. Today, it takes one hour by car or a diesel vessel.
Pure electric implies more sustainable travel and transport. Can you give us the main numbers in terms of environmental benefits?
Ships emit approximately 3% of global greenhouse emissions. Our technology doesn’t target large container tankers and cruise liners to cut all of that – but near-shore passenger vessels and leisure craft, significant polluters that often operate in sensitive ecosystems. An added point is that we don’t just electrify transport on water – but we reduce energy consumption by 80%. That is a big factor for sustainability, as sustainable energy won’t be abundant for the years to come, especially as demand is projected to rise worldwide. Also, for us, sustainability means that new solutions have to be profitable, otherwise they won’t see implementation at scale. The key here is that a Candela P-12 ferry system is more economical than conventional diesel alternatives, providing operators an additional incentive to switch.
You have several models, from the smaller C7 to the 30 seater P-12 shuttle. How far does the technology scale? Are larger luxury yachts in the works?
We can make bigger yachts and commercial vessels, for sure. But we chose to develop less voluminous boats for public use, since we believe this is the most efficient way to design a waterborne transport system. Many smaller shuttle ferries replace the large diesel variants, leading to more frequent departures and higher utilisation. Think of it as a bus network on water.
Is it possible to go for a test drive? And do you deliver across the world in terms of sales or select markets?
YES! We are rolling out C-8 to the first customers, and offer test drives in the Netherlands, Switzerland, US (San Francisco, Miami), Stockholm and Finland, soon followed by England, Italy, Germany and New Zealand. Go to candela.com to find your nearest spot.
What is your dream destination with a Candela boat?
Anywhere! In a Candela, the journey is the reward. It’s silent, smooth and relaxing. But the one I’m most excited about right now is the upcoming maiden trip of the P-12, looking forward to the morning commute from the suburb of Ekerö to central Stockholm. And this anyone can do – for a 3 euro ticket.
We’re sold! A big thank you to Mikael for giving us a fascinating view into the world of electric boating. The future of the seas is silent, clean, and fast. With eco-friendly transport options like these, sustainable travel is becoming more of a reality. Interested in learning more about the different boat models? Visit Candela and cruise into the sunset!
Have you been on an electric boat? What was your experience? Let us know in the comment section! Don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter and benefit from tips, interviews, and inspirational examples of sustainable travel and tourism.