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Tuesday, January 19, 2021 

Austal Australia has launched the ‘Volta’ series of electric-powered high speed ferry solutions, with the introduction of the Passenger Express 46V, a fully electric-powered 46m catamaran ferry design.

Austal says its Volta series is distinct from existing, electric-powered vessels in the marketplace by going beyond the replacement of diesel engines with an electric (battery) power plant, to offer a completely integrated design, construction and support solution - including on-shore charging infrastructure and in-service support programs for operators. The vessels combine all new, light-weight, low-resistance hull forms, specifically designed, tested and optimised for electric-power propulsion, with lithium ion batteries. Austal provides operators with a fully customised design and ‘turnkey’ solution, taking into account passenger numbers, vessel schedules and charging infrastructure.

CEO Paddy Gregg said: “For any high speed vessel and even more so for electric-powered ferries, optimising vessel weight and performance is essential - driving not just operating costs, but the size and upfront purchase cost of the batteries and the charging system. With Austal’s unique Volta series of custom designed and built vessels, customers may achieve a lower total cost of ownership without compromising on performance or capability. Operators can reliably and profitably sail on schedule all day, every day. Austal’s Volta series also future-proofs an operators’ fleet by introducing environmentally friendly, ‘green’ technology that already meets widely anticipated, low or zero-emission targets for public transport vehicles and operators, worldwide.”

Austal drew upon the company’s experience and expertise in innovative, high-speed craft design, construction and support – and collaborated with industry leading electric technology partners - to develop the Volta series over the past two years.

The first of class, 46m Passenger Express 46V is designed to provide an environmentally friendly, economical vessel ideal for metropolitan, inland waterway commuter ferry services. With capacity of up to 450 passengers, a maximum speed of 25 knots and fast charging capability, with a range of over 175 naut mile/day with 20% reserve, the Passenger Express 46V highlights the advantages of the design technology.

The vessel features a natural, light filled interior enabled by large, panoramic windows and generous skylights. Double automatic-sliding external doors provide direct, easy access to the passenger deck for fast passenger turnarounds that match or better the battery-charging times offered by the fully integrated, shore-based battery charging infrastructure. Propulsion is by two PM motors driving FP or CP propellers, with options for waterjets or azimuthing thrusters. Two battery banks, one in each hull, are designed for minimum life of seven years.

Austal plans to expand the VOLTA series through the development of additional models for both commercial and defence applications, including autonomous vessels; and continue research and development into emerging propulsion technology, to deliver zero emission marine solutions globally.

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