Austin Parker Introduces a New Kind of Hybrid

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At the Genoa International Boat Show, Italian boatbuilder Austin Parker announced the beginning of an exciting new project, a 36-footer powered by a hybrid propulsion system developed by Italian industrial-equipment manufacturer Transfluid. The hybrid system is contained within the drivetrain in a unit (shown above) placed between the clutch and transmission.

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The system will provide three operating modes, according to Austin Parker and Transfluid, and will use a battery bank weighing around 800 pounds. The first mode uses the diesel engines to power the boat. In this configuration the Austin Parker 36' Hybrid is expected to reach speeds of 24 knots and will turn the electric unit in the drivetrain to charge the battery bank (running for just one hour will charge the batteries 80 percent). When fully charged, the batteries will power the boat in electric-only mode, where the 27-horsepower electric motor is expected to move the boat at 12 knots for up to two hours.

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I spoke to Sebastiano Gravagno, sales director for Austin Parker, and Ugo Pavesi, managing director for Transfluid (both of them are shown above, left to right) after their press presentation. The third mode they described is one I’ve never heard of before on a marine hybrid drive: Called “boost” mode, the system can use the power of both the diesel engines and and the electric propulsion unit to gain more speed. In fact they expect the boat will reach 32 knots in this mode. Because of the hybrid system, they expect to use smaller diesels in the boat, which adds to the efficiency thanks to their reduced weight, but will still have the punch to top 30 knots with the electric boost.

One interesting point: Pavesi told me that the components used in the system are all produced for other applications. This helps reduce costs, but it also means the system is scalable to larger applications. Stay tuned for more on this and other exciting news from Austin Parker.

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