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Seine Alliance takes ‘first’ fully-electric passenger boat to Paris

Seine Alliance, a partnersip between Groupe Renault and Green Vision, has launched what it is the “first 100 per cent electric passenger boat with second life batteries” to Paris, France.

The “Black Swan”, as the boat is called, is specifically designed for private or business cruises on the Seine, the main river is Paris.

The aim of Seine Alliance and its partners is to be able to demonstrate the effectiveness of a model based on the principle of the circular economy, in order to reproduce it and create synergies between the various mobility players.

Seine Alliance says “the current ebullient atmosphere”, in which innovative solutions are being sought to preserve the planet, the initiatives taken by professionals in the river sector offer encouragement for the future.

Highly mobilised around the environmental aspects of their activities, they have been the source of many exemplary projects that are setting the pace for energy transition.

The Black Swan, a zero-emissions boat with a capacity of two to eight people for family excursions of around 2 hours, has been designed in this spirit.

It is powered by two electric motors and needs no generator or back-up internal combustion engine. So, it won’t emit any exhaust gases and proceeds noiselessly.

It is a voluntary transformation approach towards reducing the impact of river activities on the environment.

As host to COP 21 in 2015 and the Olympic Games in 2024, Paris has a duty to provide innovative solutions for the environment.

Seine has already shown itself to be exemplary in respect of energy performances in the transport sector.

Our company has once again brought an electric boat project to fruition with the aim of raising the awareness of all of the river’s users, says Didier Spade, chairman of Seine Alliance.

The Black Swan is equipped with two wholly independent, autonomous, 100 per cent electric propulsion lines. This redundancy means “worry-free sailing”, says Seine Alliance.

Lithium-ion batteries taken from Renault electric vehicles once they have reached the end of their “first car life” are being re-conditioned and re-purposed.

They are then installed beneath the boat’s side bench seats in 4 battery stainless steel housings that have been specially designed to ensure safe, water-tight operating conditions. The energy and raw materials required to produce new batteries has been avoided.

Gilles Normand, senior vice president, electric vehicle at Groupe Renault, says: “We are proud of having contributed to the Black Swan project alongside Seine Alliance and Green-Vision.

“Once again, this approach has shown that, used in a second life as energy storage units, the batteries from our electric vehicles represent an essential lever for the acceleration of the energy transition.”

Each propeller is connected to two battery arrays that have a nominal power output of 10kW (20kW at maximum power), which allows the boat to reach the usual cruising speeds – there is a speed limit in force on the Seine in Paris.

In total, the batteries weigh 278 kg, which is lighter than the fuel tank fitted in the boat when it was powered by an internal combustion engine.

The hull, with the dynamic lines and timeless design of its Italian builder, Tullio Abbate, has been retained, but it has neither outboard nor inboard motors.

Propulsion and turning is provided by underwater directional units (known as pods).

This is a technical development that gives the boat a sleeker profile and makes it possible to optimise the ergonomics of the cockpit to make steering easier and ensure maximum comfort for passengers as the boat glides silently along.

And those passengers are able to enjoy two-hour cruises after a charging time of just two to three hours.

The technical presentation of the Black Swan took place recently at the Atelier du France.

The professional from the world of river navigation gathered at the Port de Grenelle in Paris to learn about an elegant, operational boat that could inspire the 150-odd commercial boats that ply their trade in Paris’ waterway, now that the migration to more environmentally friendly propulsion systems has become possible.

Demonstrations for the press will take place in the first quarter of 2020, at the same time as the Black Swan comes into service (once the necessary government permits have been obtained).

This is also when Seine Alliance will begin to refit a new analogue boat, before continuing with other boats to reach the target of a 100 per cent electric fleet by 2024.

The Black Swan is the precursor of a new generation of boats, setting the bar for creativity, carbon neutrality and functionality, without compromising on elegance.

The synergy developed with Groupe Renault and Green-Vision will allow the smart use of re-conditioned products that forms part of a truly sustainable development approach.

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