Ten years ago, it’d be hard to imagine Volkswagen building a solar-powered yacht, but the proverbial tide has now turned.
On Tuesday, Volkswagen announced it’s partnered up with German solar yacht manufacturer Silent-Yachts to build a new yacht that will feature Volkswagen’s modular e-drive system (MEB) powertrain and solar panels as a main power source. Volkswagen, which originally developed MEB for use in its electric vehicles, such as the Volkswagen I.D., says there are multiple benefits of using this powertrain in a yacht. First, the company says, the MEB powertrain is powerful, quiet, and produces low vibrations. Furthermore, Volkswagen says the MEB, which is used “millions of times” in VW’s electric cars benefits from economies of scale and ultimately drives the cost of yacht’s production down. Finally, VW’s powertrain should be easier and cheaper to service.
While the yacht is primarily solar-powered, it will also have a diesel generator as an emergency backup.
The yacht’s design was done by designers from the VW-owned Cupra brand, and is quite a bit more futuristic than Silent-Yachts’ typical design. This is not the first solar-powered yacht for Silent-Yachts; the company sells several yachts already, ranging from the 55-foot Silent 55, which starts at 1.97 million euros ($2.38 million) to the 80-foot, three-deck Silent 80, which starts at 5.51 million euros ($6.67 million).
There’s no word on how much the new, jointly produced Silent 50 will cost, or how much power its solar panels will produce. For comparison, the Silent 55’s solar panels produce 10 kWp of peak power. Volkswagen, Cupra, and Silent-Yachts have jointly declared to launch the Silent 50 — the first yacht featuring the MEB propulsion — in 2022. And after a start-up period of four years, VW plans for 50 MEB-based yachts to be produced each year, or more should the market require it.