In this week’s Science & Technology section, The Economist covers the revolutionary electric speedboat Candela Seven and it’s cutting-edge foiling technology.
This is probably the first time a leisure boat manufacturer is featured in The Economist, one of the world’s most prestigious business magazines. But then again, Candela Seven is no ordinary boat. It is the first electric boat with enough range and speed to compete with fossil fuel powerboats on equal terms – but also offers benefits not seen before in maritime history.
While conventional fast electric boats have been hampered by their inefficient hulls and correspondingly short range, Candela, a Swedish company, is taking a new approach.
It’s first model, the 25 foot Seven, flies like a fighter jet above the waves on high-performance, computer-controlled wings called hydrofoils. The design uses 80 percent less energy at 20-plus knots compared to fossil fuel powered speedboats. This translates into three times greater range than conventional electric boats, “which should help reassure any skippers with range anxiety”, as The Economist outs it.
But there are more advantages to Candela’s foiling technology. The boat’s built-in digital flight controller adjusts the foils up to 100 times per second, accounting for every environmental factor, including waves, wind, and even passengers moving around the boat. The ride in rough choppy water is thus as silky as on a lake at sunrise with glass-smooth water. When cruising in shallow water, the foils can be retracted into the hull.
With a top speed of 30 knots, that can be sustained even in 4 foot chop without slamming, the Candela Seven is the perfect zero-emission boat for outings or watersports. The lack of wake makes it especially ideal for slalom waterskiing. And, last but not least, its efficient foils and electric motor makes it 95 percent cheaper to run than traditional gas-guzzling motorboats.
“The Seven is our best effort to make the first no-compromise boat. It’s zero-emission, but also insanely fun to drive. Flying just a foot above the waves without slamming is just unreal. You can go fast and far on pure electric power. And your passengers won’t get seasick” says Mikael Mahlberg, Candela’s communications officer.
The customers seem to agree. Having sold 30 boats and manufactured 20 of them in just over a year, the Swedish company is now the best-selling electric boat builder in Europe. The next step is to ramp up the serial production in it’s Stockholm factory.