Rolls-Royce and Sunseeker to launch hybrid yacht

A decade-long development dream for a hybrid electric-diesel production yacht will come to fruition next year as British luxury yacht manufacturer Sunseeker International and Rolls-Royce have agreed to present the first yacht fitted with an MTU series production hybrid propulsion system in 2020.

The new Sunseeker yacht will have an integrated MTU hybrid propulsion system. It will consist of two 12-cylinder MTU Series 2000 diesel engines (each delivering around 1,432 kW/ 1,947 hp), on-board generators, electric propulsion modules, transmission system, batteries, control and monitoring systems and can be expanded on a modular basis.

The yacht will be provided with six different operating modes that are easy to operate, including the automated “smart hybrid” and “charge hybrid” modes, which enable all power sources to be used as required. In an “electric mode” the yacht propulsion and on-board power can be supplied continuously by the generators, providing optimisation of fuel consumption and comfort on-board for long and overnight passages. In “silent mode”, which uses power solely from the batteries, up to 40 minutes of propulsion and 120 minutes of on-board power are available with each pair of MTU batteries installed, with no emissions produced whatsoever.

Sean Robertson, Sales Director at Sunseeker International commented: “The way owners are using their boats continues to evolve with efficiency and noise reduction now as important as features and volume which all contribute to their ultimate purchase decision. This latest hybrid technology will feature in a brand new model launching in 2020 and will allow owners a choice of multiple operating modes from all-electric with zero emissions through to use of the twin 12-cylinder diesel engines delivering efficient class-leading performance. We will always be led by our customers who are seeking the highest levels of innovation to match their extended cruising aspirations.”

Knut Müller, Head of Marine and Government Business at MTU, said: “The combination of diesel engines and electric motors, in addition to batteries and their variable areas of application, offer yacht owners significant benefits. Silent cruising, combined with low vibration and emission levels, offer tremendous gains in terms of on-board comfort. High performance levels, efficiency, environmental compatibility and the flexibility of the propulsion system are of great interest today when operating a yacht. We believe that the focus in the future yacht industry will be more and more on smart and innovative system solutions rather than just focussing on the power output level.”

Successful collaboration going back more than 18 years 
Sunseeker and MTU UK have had a successful working relationship for more than 18 years, with over 1.8 million hp of MTU power installed in yachts with lengths of between 20 and 47 metres. As early as 2010, the two companies laid the basis for the hybrid propulsion system in tests that were carried out on a prototype yacht.

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