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    The World’s First Mass-produced Luxury Electric Leisure Boat

    Delivering the range and speed to compete with traditional fossil fuel boats

    Electric leisure boats have been around in one form or another for more than one hundred years, but they’ve always faced the same issue: they had speed without range – or they had range without speed. Sweden’s award-winning innovator Candela changed all of that when they launched the world’s first hydrofoiling electric boat in serial production, the C-7, in 2019. That boat has gone on to win a shelfful of awards, including the world’s biggest competition for electric and new energy boats, the Monaco Energy Challenge. Now, Candela has launched their first mass-market boat, the C-8, which is an entirely different kind of beast altogether: it’s bigger, it’s more capable, and it has longer range – and it comes with a number of features that make it superior to conventional fossil-fueled boats.

    In many ways, the first boat launched by Candela, the C-7, was their roadster and wasn’t really meant for efficiency or production. So, even though the company made and sold around 34 C-7s, 99% of the focus was on making it fly. Now, with the nearly launched C-8, Candela has taken everything they learned from the C-7 and applying it to the C-8 from a technical standpoint, while also adding those amenities one would expect from a high-end leisure boat.

    “The C-8 is our first mass-market boat,” explains Mikael Mahlberg, PR & Communications Manager, Candela Speedboats. “And in a sense, you can say it’s also the first mass-market electric boat, because it has the range and speed to compete with traditional fossil fuel boats, along with a number of features that make it superior to conventional boats, such as it flies so there is no wake, and it is totally silent because we have developed a new C-pod drive train – and that is a big component and the key in being able to make a mass-produced and really efficient electric boat.”

    If you look at the C-7, it had a drive train and motor that was bought off the shelf and mounted in a box above the water line, just like any other outboard on the market.

    With the C-8, Candela switched things up, submerging the motor, which means the boat is completely silent with no noise from the transmission and because the boat ‘flies’ there is no sound of waves slapping on the side of the boat.

    “On top of that, you also have the maintenance-free drive train,” says Mikael Mahlberg. “This drive train is made for 3 000 hours without any service or maintenance. If you compare that to a commercial outboard, you would have just 100 hours before you would have to service it. This was not easy to develop, but it is an electric motor driving a propeller with a straight shaft, so there are no moving parts other than the rotor – meaning no transmission, no oil, no gear houses, and no cooling system, because the motor itself is cooled by the flow of water. Basically, it’s built for eternity.”

    Speed plus luxury

    If the C-7 was the showboat and a way for Candela to make a splash in the market, the C-8 is where the company scales up to become a major manufacturer of electric leisure boats. The C-7 had a very complicated carbon fiber structure that made it super light but also very expensive to build, so things like cup holders were not highly prioritized.

    By developing the C-pod for the C-8 boat, along with other improvements to things like the hydrofoil system, the C-8 is the next generation boat. So, in addition to the increased range, no wake, no noise, and other features, the C-8 also sleeps four people, has a marine toilet, a sunbed, comfortable seats, a shower – all the bells and whistles you would expect in a 28-foot combustion engine boat is also onboard the C-8. Candela didn’t want to be inferior in any respect with the C-8, so despite it being 500 kilograms heavier than the C-7, it consumes less power, meaning it is more efficient despite the extra weight.

    “We’re really innovating and pushing the boundaries with this boat,” says Mikael Mahlberg. “The conventional way to tackle things in the boat industry has often been to just put a bigger motor so you get a faster boat. But we’ve done it the opposite way around, with the opposite approach. We’ve actually made a smaller more efficient motor on a bigger boat. The C-pod is about 50-55 kilowatts, which is a tad less powerful than the motor in the C-7, but it’s more efficient, which is what really matters, because you can go faster, and you can go for longer times than the C-7.  If you compare it to a conventional boat – electric or fossil fuel – an 8-meter boat will use 100 kilowatts to maintain a speed of 25 knots, but we use 20 kilowatts.”

    Charging

    When it comes to charging the C-8, Candela again took a different approach. And that approach meant building a more efficient boat, which meant they could use a smaller battery.

    “We have a 45-killowatt hour battery on the C-8, which is a fairly modestly-sized batter when compared with competitors, who don’t get the same range,” says Mikael Mahlberg. “A smaller battery means faster charging times, so with a 22-killowatt charger, which is what you can easily install in any marina, you can charge the C-8 is two hours, which isn’t much – basically it’s time to have a nice lunch at the marina before getting back out on the water.

    “In other words, if you’re boating in Stockholm, you can get from the city to the outer archipelago, charge for 45 minutes and go back at a speed of 25 knots, so for a Swedish scenario you have plenty of range, but if you look at international scenarios – San Francisco Bay, for example – you can pretty much cover any distance a fossil fuel boat can cover.”

    The response

    The C-7 put the boating world on notice that there was a new and innovative boat that was poised to change how we look at electric boats forever. The C-8 has upped the ante – and plenty of people are taking notice. Recently, in Venice, Candela grabbed a lot of attention, because that city has a serious problem with wake-induced damage to buildings.

    “They really like this concept of a no-wake boat,” says Mikael Mahlberg. “Wake tends to erode the foundations of the buildings in Venice, so they really want a fast boat that is electric and that doesn’t create any waves. Candela and the C-8 was like a gift from heaven for them. I was flying into the harbor, which has a speed limit of 3 knots, and I flew past the Chief of Police at a speed of 25 knots and I was clearly breaking the law, but he was sort of saluting and cheering us on! So, while the C-8 is great anywhere, it’s particularly welcome in harbors, where wake can be a big challenge.”

    The role IoT plays

    Candela’s boats are a prime example of an IoT-enabled product that uses IoT to serve customers globally. Data on everything from motor performance to location is logged, and if there is an anomaly in, for example, the electric systems, Candela can track and fix that remotely. Connectivity saves a lot of time and money for both Candela and their customers, because being able to address problems remotely globally means they don’t need service centers all over the world.

    “If you compare this with a traditional engine maker, if they have an error in one of their engines an alert will pop up on the screen in the boat and then you have to take it to the dealer to get fixed,” says Mikael Mahlberg. “This isn’t a good approach for us – we’re a small but growing company that exports all over the world. IoT allows us to troubleshoot problems and then fix them, all remotely.”

    IoT and connectivity are crucial to what we do. You really have to log a lot of data to help customers around the globe and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without IoT.

    “For example, when the C-7 was launched we had one guy who had an issue with the struts to the hydrofoil. You can retract them if you want to beach the boat or go into a shallow marina. They don’t normally fail but it did happen this one time. The guy was pretty far away, and we didn’t have a service technician close by. But then, we didn’t need a service technician because one of our service engineers here in Stockholm accessed the system and was able to see it was just a faulty sensor. So, five minutes after this guy phoned the problem was solved from the other side of the world. This is why IoT is a key component in our boats.”

    Public transport & the future

    Even as Candela has been innovating in the leisure electric boat market, they’ve also been developing the P-30 ferry, the world’s first high-speed, long-range electric ferry, which cruises at 20+ knots on computer-controlled hydrofoils and consumes 80% less energy than conventional ferries.

    “We are currently building the first P-30 ferry and while the City of Stockholm has the first build slot, we’re also in discussions with 45 other cities around the world,” explains Mikael Mahlberg. “It’s a lot cheaper to operate an electric hydrofoil ferry than a diesel ferry. Stockholm estimates they will save 45% annually by operating the P-30. If you compare that to trucking, where the silver bullet in cost cutting is 5% you can see this is very significant. I won’t say it’s game over for conventional ferries, but I do think we have the ability to really change and dominate the market, while also introducing a ferry that is sustainable and clean.”

    Candela’s new Director of Autonomy, who led the development of the electric autonomous vehicle technology at Audi, will also be part of Candela pushing autonomy with ferries.

    “People used to be skeptical about hydrofoils but that skepticism is fading quickly. It’s the same with autonomous vehicles – people are getting used to the idea and the benefits speak for themselves. When it comes to an autonomous ferry, you can basically use the ferry service like an Uber. It’s on-demand, so instead of waiting for a ferry according to a timetable you can have a more flexible system with more frequent departures and when you want to travel.”

    This will be welcome news to anyone who lives in a region where ferry travel is prevalent. If we look at the Stockholm archipelago, there are roughly 70 different vessels operating on routes. These are often two-to-three-hundred-person vessels and at times, there might be ten or even no one onboard on the scheduled routes. This is where it doesn’t make sense to run conventional vessels on some routes with timetables, particularly during low traffic seasons. An on-demand service is a lot cheaper for the taxpayer and gives a better experience.

    In order to have a real impact Candela needs to become the number one leisure boat maker in the world. So, if you look at the C-7 as Candela’s roadster, the C-8 is definitely their Model S.

    “We sold 34 C-7s in three years, making it the best-selling electric leisure boat in Europe. With the C-8, we sold 50 in the first week after launch, so we’re on quite a trajectory,” says Mikael Mahlberg. “Public transport is a different angle: once we have a proof of concept with the city of Stockholm there will be continued innovation there as well. The public transport business case is strong, so while we’ve come further in the leisure boat arena, as it is already selling, in the long run commercial transportation – the ferries – is where we have the most potential to actually make a difference for people’s everyday lives and also sustainability, because it’s fairly easy way to introduce zero emission in city transport. You don’t have to build a tunnel or bridge – you can just use the existing infrastructure, the existing waterways, for highspeed electric transport. Then all you really need is a charger and a dock and you’re good to go.”