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A hybrid Venetian water taxi points the route to a more sustainable way of life

The Venice-based design studio Nuvolari Lenard recently completed work on a pioneering luxury Venetian water taxi that will help to preserve the historic city through the use of “green” technology, complemented by the studio’s renowned attention to detail and uncompromising luxury finishing.

A project that takes on an almost symbolic value in a moment like the one we are experiencing, in which we have the opportunity to direct our choices towards a more sustainable way of life. In this perspective, the choice to base this project on a hybrid engine is a fundamental component.

Here, Carlo Nuvolari gives an insight into how he, partner Dan Lenard and their team designed this exciting new project that is set to make an impact on their local Venetian community and the wider yachting world. Venice therefore as an ideal laboratory for modern technologies capable of guaranteeing the minimum environmental impact and combined, in the Nuvolari Lenard project, with elegant and classic lines and with the use of wood.

A “green” luxury watercraft to preserve our fragile city

As Venetians, Dan and I feel a strong connection with the city and have experienced first-hand the damage that is being caused to its delicate structures, through air and noise pollution as well as physical erosion. We felt that it was crucial to address the problems facing our beautiful hometown, and that Nuvolari Lenard was well placed to lead the charge in finding a solution, through a unique project dedicated to helping Venice.

And so, during the 2019 edition of the Venice Boat Show, we organised a forum to discuss potential designs for a hybrid luxury watercraft that could solve Venice’s pollution problem. Diesel electric hybrid propulsion seemed to be the most efficient solution for Venice’s particular requirements.

Short battery life is a common concern for many hybrid propulsion systems, but in Venice the water taxis make regular trips to the airport in open water where they travel at higher speeds using diesel, which gives the batteries time to recharge, even if not completely, for when the vessel returns to the low-speed confines of the city’s waterways, at which point it will only draw on the stored electric power.

Thunder – the 14-seat hybrid luxury water taxi in Venice

The first unit of the 14-seat luxury water taxi, Thunder, has been built at Cantieri Vizianello in Venice which developed the mechanical and electronic coupling system of the hybrid system. After a test period of about a year, it has obtained complete approval by the classification bodies. It is therefore now a marketable product and no longer an experimental prototype. We hope that this progressive model for transportation in the city will change the mindset of the historically conservative transport companies in Venice.

Although the technology on board is ultra modern, we made every effort to respect the stylistic heritage of the classic water taxis for which Venice is famous, and so the new designs use traditional wooden materials with some modernisation.

Lenard has received a request for the 9.2-metre vessel to be used as a limousine tender for a superyacht client, which gives an idea of the degree of comfort and quality of the project.

For another prototype experimental project, we are currently in discussions with an Asian car manifacturer about the potential for using a hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system, which is a very clean technology used in the aerospace field.

Current limitations on the storage of hydrogen on vehicles mean that it will take some time before this technology obtains the necessary certifications to be placed on the market. More round-table discussions are set for the forthcoming period and we look forward to taking the project further with our various partners.

Pushing boundaries in design and technology for marine transportation is something we try to do each day with our superyacht, production yacht and custom tender projects. And so Nuvolari Lenard is very proud to be doing something for Venice, as it is so close to our hearts and a stunning place that we want to help preserve for future generations.

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