Electrical surges

An electrical revolution is well and truly underway in the transport industry – and it’s even beginning to make a meaningful impact on the water.

Like many fellow Aucklanders, I’ve been cycling (well, e-biking) to and from work – weather permitting, of course. And I’m intrigued by the growing number of people who’ve suddenly adopted an electric steed in various guises – skateboards, scooters, e-bikes – even an odd, uni-cycle contraption that looks very unstable. All sharing the cycle paths in a relatively civil manner. It’s not Little Amsterdam quite yet, but we’re getting there.

 

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I’d like to think this movement is all about saving the planet (every little bit helps) but in truth I’m fairly sure my fellow riders, like me, are simply frustrated and have resorted to an alternative, faster, easier (and healthier) way to get to work. Negotiating Auckland’s constipated roads demands the patience of a saint.

So, in reality, this rise in e-Transport is all about convenience, although the young execs whizzing along on a Lime scooter, wearing their best sunnies with a laptop slung over the shoulder, do look kinda trendy. I’m still working on the trendy bit.

Still, I’ve often wondered how this electric alternative to conventional land transport will play out in the marine industry. While hybrid diesel-electric systems have been around for decades (think WWII submarines) the recreational marine industry hasn’t seen a lot of development.

Well, as Norman Holtzhausen’s piece in this issue about electric outboards illustrates, things are moving quickly. Battery capacity remains a limiting factor, but small electric outboards for tenders – boaties wanting to commute easily between ship and shore – are convenient and viable. As growing sales of the e-outboards indicate, many boaties agree. Yours might not be the fastest dinghy in the anchorage, but chances are it will be the quietest with the smallest environmental footprint.

And speaking of footprints…

Battery power is also facilitating other kinds of developments in the recreational marine industry. We will – in a coming issue – feature a story about an owner who swapped the conventional lead-acid battery pack on his large launch for lithium-ion alternatives.

The new batteries are not only more than a ton lighter, but also have a much smaller footprint. He now has enough space in the battery compartment to install a gyro-stabiliser. Now that’s progress!

Happy boating.

Lawrence Schäffler, Editor

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