We traveled to Gothenburg, Sweden to test Volvo Penta’s new-gen D4 and D6 powerplants and got a sneak peek of an electrified future.
The waterfront of Gothenburg’s Lindholmen district was abuzz. Ferries picked up and dropped off passengers, many of whom pedaled off to their next destination or walked to the nearby hybrid bus line. As I ambled along, I passed a fully autonomous, self-driving bus—now in its second year of operation—and a tech company with a fleet of electric, Volvo SUVs which will soon take to the streets as the world’s first large-scale pilot project in autonomous driving.
It was crystal clear: the future is now in Sweden. And the Volvo Group is leading the charge with a vision to become the world leader in sustainable power solutions.
Here in Gothenburg is Volvo Penta HQ. I was invited to not only sea trial the company’s new D4 and D6 powerplants but also to get a glimpse of the innovation that Volvo Penta plans to motor us into the future.
I arrived at the company’s testing facility on the Gothenburg Archipelago via electric bus and learned how Volvo Penta’s vision of “easy boating” is the way forward with total helm-to-prop solutions. With this in mind, they’ve updated their proven Electronic Vessel Control with an all-new architecture including On-Board Maintenance Assistant—which informs users of service dates—faster software downloads and improved diagnostics all through a single connection point.
Expect less maintenance on those engines as well. 85 percent of the powerplants have been reengineered with stronger, most robust materials. Volvo Penta claims the engines will be more reliable, boaster better performance and fuel efficiency and offer longer periods of time between necessary service intervals. The powerplants will be more powerful as well, with the D4 now topping out at 320-hp and a high rating of 480-hp for the D6 engines. And don’t go looking for that oil dipstick—levels will now be checked on your MFD. Again, easy boating.
After presentations, we braved the choppy seas and 30-knot gusts on the archipelago to sea trial the new powerplants on a variety of vessels: A 33-foot Sargo with twin sterndrives and the largest D4s to a pair of 46-footers from Jeanneau and Prestige with twin 480-hp D6s matched to straight shafts and IPS drives, respectively.
We also got a glimpse of the future: First, aboard a 68-foot Azimut equipped with Easy Docking, the company’s self-docking system (still undergoing testing). Then a sneak peek—no cameras, please—at an all-electric IPS drivetrain that will soon undergo extensive testing.
Speaking of testing, an all-electric ferry will be on the water all summer, serving Gothenburg commuters. And the Volvo Penta team assured us that a complete integrated hybrid IPS package is coming. They just didn’t tell us when. Backed by the massive R&D that is the Volvo Group, you can be sure it’s sooner than later.
For more on Volvo Penta’s new powerplants, stay tuned to an upcoming issue of Power & Motoryacht.