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New Zealand’s $6 Million E-Ferry, a First in the Southern Hemisphere, Can Hit 26 MPH

Despite significant delays caused by the global health crisis, East by West, a local ferry company in Wellington, New Zealand, is only a few steps away from officially launching the country’s first electric ferry – a premiere for the entire Southern Hemisphere.
New Zeeland's first e-ferry began sea trials in August and will enter service this year 6 photos
New Zeeland E-FerryNew Zeeland E-FerryNew Zeeland E-FerryNew Zeeland E-FerryNew Zeeland E-Ferry
A local New Zealand company managed to achieve a very ambitious goal – the nation’s pioneering electric passenger ferry is ready to enter service by the end of this year. This trailblazing project involved the cooperation of several companies, including the Wellington Electric Boat Building Company (WEBBCo), Gurit (who developed the lightweight hull), naval architecture company SSC Marine, plus McKay, who was in charge of all the electrical engineering. In addition to these, Meridian Energy will be the power provider for the new vessel.

The project began in 2018, with the purpose of eventually replacing East by West’s diesel catamarans. After the unexpected delays, the innovative ship finally started sea trials earlier this year, in August, and it looks like it will be ready for service by the end of the year. The 62-foot (19 meters) ferry can transport 135 passengers, while the company’s current ferries can only carry 99.

East by West Ferries’ managing director Jeremy Ward also told Stuff that the new ferry is an improved version of the diesel catamarans’ design. Even its name, Ika Rere (“Flying Fish”) is spot on, because the e-ferry showed remarkable speed capabilities during the sea trials. Compared to the conventional fuel ferries, with a maximum speed of 14 knots (16 mph/26 kph), the electric ferry conquered the water at 22.5 knots (26 mph/41.6 kph), thanks to its 350 kW motors.

Ward also said that Ika Rere is not only a sustainable transport alternative for the future, but also a more enjoyable one, thanks to the silent motors.

New Zealand’s pioneering e-ferry will take passengers from Wellington CBD to Days Bay, and Matiu/Somes Island.

The project also received support from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, Greater Wellington, and Callaghan.


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