Venice’s greener taxi

Anyone who’s flown into Venice will probably have travelled from the airport to the city in one of the city’s iconic water taxis. But a new, more sustainable vessel is now making waves on the famous lagoon.

The 14-seat Thunder is a luxury 9.2m water taxi using a hybrid mechanical and electronic coupling propulsion system.

Penned by Venetian design studio Nuvolari Lenard, it was built by the city’s Cantieri Vizianello boatbuilding company.

Design partners Carlo Nuvolari and Dan Lenard say they have a strong connection with the city and have experienced first-hand the damage that is being caused to its delicate structures by air and noise pollution as well as physical erosion.

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“We felt that it was crucial to address the problems facing our beautiful hometown and find a solution through a unique project dedicated to helping Venice. During the 2019 edition of the Venice Boat Show,

we organised a forum to discuss potential designs for a hybrid luxury watercraft that could solve Venice’s pollution problem. Diesel-electric hybrid propulsion seemed to be the most efficient solution for Venice’s particular requirements.”

Though short battery life is a common concern for many hybrid propulsion systems, in Venice the water taxis make regular trips to the airport in open water. They travel at higher speeds using diesel which gives the batteries time to recharge for when the vessel returns to the low-speed confines of the city’s waterways, where they only draw on the stored electric power.

Although the technology on board is state-of-theart, the designers made every effort to respect the stylistic heritage of the classic water taxis for which Venice is famous. The new design uses traditional wooden materials with some modernisation. “We hope this progressive model for transportation in the city will change the mindset of the historically conservative transport companies in Venice.”