We all know Volvo as a leader in automotive design, but I bet you didn’t know Volvo also does marine technology. It does, just not on the level we’re about to witness.
Yes, this is a Volvo-branded powerboat design, but Volvo Penta (the marine branch of Volvo Group) only makes engines. What are we looking at, then? Well, this design is actually a thesis project of one Smitesh Chavanke from Mumbai, India. And, if it seems that ULLA screams automotive design at you, it’s because Mr. Chavanke is a car designer at Groupe Renault Design.
His vision behind ULLA is to show what could happen if the two Volvo families ever got together and had a baby. Inspired by the shapes and lines of higher-end Volvo automobiles, this vessel is meant to bring forth the best of what Volvo is known for, safety and endurance.
From the very start, we can see this vessel is a bit different than others you may have seen ‘round these antievolution waters. After all, we’re known to bring you some amazing yacht designs that seem to topple the scales of what is possible with enough money. But the ULLA is about speed and endurance.
For example, it’s not some monstrosity that topples the scales with a “mile-long” hull but rather a reserved 49.2 ft (15 m). However, don’t start thinking that size is what matters most; my wife says it doesn’t. What matters the most, in the case of ULLA, is its hybrid tech.
For starters, the vessel is mainly powered by electric energy. But anytime you use electricity, there must be some batteries somewhere, and even more important is the way you recharge said batteries. Don’t worry, the top segments of the hull are covered in photovoltaic cells that capture the sun’s energy and transfer it to the batteries. From there, the rest is history.
But one issue with electrical motors is their need to be kept cool for optimal performance. It seems that Chavanke took notice of this and installed a set of what look like gills towards the rear of the craft. And just as gills on a fish take in water in order to create oxygen, these gills, too, are meant to take in oxygen and transfer it to electrical components in order to keep things cool.
One thing we may have noticed is what seems to be carbon fiber. But this is speculation, as the designer doesn’t mention this. However, it makes all the sense in the world to use carbon fiber on something like this as it is light, durable, and definitely able to be shaped into such a hull.
Inside that hull, there’s also some room for a few guests. However, don’t expect some interior with jacuzzies, but rather just a few seats. The cockpit seems to be the place where some of that Volvo interior ethos comes to light. Here we find seating for four guests, all of which are encased in carbon fiber to offer maximum protection without adding weight.
But why such a large focus on light-weighting, though? Well, Chavanke seems to be a lover of speed, so much so that this vessel includes three 900 kW motors that are supposed to push out a combined 3,600 HP. That’s enough to project this beast across international waters at a theoretical top speed of 52 knots.
Don’t forget that what you see here is, after all, just a concept. But, and here’s the big but, being a smaller vessel, it could very well be commissioned for a build. As long as the money’s there, of course.