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ZF develops fully electric propulsion system for sailing yachts

ZF has developed what it describes as a “fully electric” propulsion system for sailing yachts.

ZF says the development shows it is continuing to expand its portfolio of environment-friendly marine propulsion solutions.

The new fully electric propulsion system can be combined with ZF’s Steerable Pod Propulsion system and is “steering skippers into a cleaner, more sustainable future”.

The system will make docking not only intuitive and relaxed, but also emission and noise-free.

ZF says there are numerous advantages of the new electric drive system:

  • Since it generates no emissions, skippers can sail into harbors with environmental regulations which ban yachts with conventional drives.
  • Since they make no noise, yachts can set off at any time in almost complete silence, so as not to disturb anybody. Since the speed of the motor is precisely controllable, it makes for safer docking in strong crosswinds or currents.

For this new electric propulsion system, ZF uses an electric motor with a maximum output of 125 kW instead of the usual diesel unit.

The electric motor connects to the ZF Steerable Pod Propulsion system (SPP) where maneuverability is further improved thanks to smooth control of the electric motor with no clutches.

Testing in the innovation vessel since September

ZF is currently testing its electric propulsion system concept under real-life conditions. An innovation vessel equipped with the system has been cruising Lake Garda since September 2019.

The prototype comes with a 60 kWh lithium-ion battery and achieves an average sustained speed of 7 knots (13 km/h) with a range of around 30 nautical miles (55.5 km).

The battery pack is positioned at the stern and is provided with a cooling system for best performance.

The structure of the test vessel is similar to the planned series application.

Massimiliano Cotterchio, ZF’s head of sales pleasure craft product line, says: “When we developed this high-end induction motor we were able to draw on synergy effects within the ZF Group.

“We use the same platform and many of the same system components our company already uses successfully and widely in other applications, so our customers can rely on proven ZF quality.”

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