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Hurtigruten Svalbard, Volvo Penta to test hybrid vessel

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Volvo Penta workers install the hybrid propulsion system
Hurtigruten Svalbard and Volvo Penta teamed to test a new hybrid vessel that will allow travelers to experience the wonders of the Arctic archipelago without disturbing the habitat.

The near-silent, Marell M15 cruiser called Kvitbjørn (polar bear) will allow for fully electric operation in the environmentally sensitive waters around Svalbard.

Getting closer to nature in a more sustainable way

'We are thrilled to be working with Volvo Penta which is taking sustainable engineering to a whole new level. And what a fitting place to test this hybrid vessel than the beautiful but fragile Svalbard, which is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,' Hurtigruten Group CEO Daniel Skjeldam said. 'As one of the biggest employers on the archipelago, our Hurtigruten Svalbard team continue to lead the charge in finding innovative ways and partnerships to enable our guests to get even closer to nature in a more sustainable way.'

Added maneuvrability at slower speeds

Among Kvitbjørn’s features is a hydraulic clutch that ensures silent and smooth shifting at low engine speeds, resulting in added maneuvrability and higher comfort at slower speeds — perfect for slow cruising when wildlife-watching.

Hurtigruten Svalbard CEO Per Brochmann said the company looks forward to testing the hybrid boat with Volvo Penta next year (May) and hearing feedback from passengers and wider Svalbard community.

500-nautical-mile range

Powered by Volvo Penta’s twin D4-320 DPI hybrid with its Aquamatic DPI, the Marell M15 boat has a top speed of 32 knots and a cruising speed of 25 knots. It is robust enough to operate in the demanding Arctic environment and to run in sub-zero temperatures, with an extensive range of 500 nautical miles.

'It’s clear that if we are going to truly limit the impacts of climate change, we need more collaborations like this,' said Heléne Mellquist, president of Volvo Penta. 'It’s exciting to see more sustainable solutions for the marine industry coming into use and we look forward to driving more of these in future.'

Pay-by-the-hour trial

The companies will also test a new pay-by-the-hour business approach. It will be the first time Volvo Penta tests the concept of 'e-mobility as a service' while Hurtigruten Svalbard will trial paying by the kilowatt-hour for operation. The concept could revolutionize investing in marine e-mobility solutions, where upfront costs are often a barrier.

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