Dr. Charles Kuehmann is Head of Materials Engineering for Tesla and its sister company Space X. He recently bought a new Elan GT5 43-foot sailboat, and had it fitted with a Torqeedo Deep Blue 25 kW electric saildrive system.
The system is powered by two 10 kWh Deep Blue batteries, which also supply the boat’s AC load through a 15 kW inverter, backed up by a small diesel generator.
“Before ordering the Elan GT5, I did a lot of research into the state of the technology and high-power electric drives available in the marine market,” said Dr. Kuehmann. “I was convinced that it was not only possible, but that converting to electric could bring a lot of advantages. I wanted to prove it.”
As are most vehicle owners who go electric, Dr. Kuehmann is quite happy with the electric powertrain’s performance. “I use it when I’m in the marina, where I need a lot of control. Maneuvering the boat with electric is so much smoother than a diesel. The instant torque and immediate power delivery make the boat very easy to handle.”
“It’s not just about sustainability,” the good doctor continues. “It’s also more convenient. No more visits to the fuel dock. I show up at the dock, and the ‘tank’ is full. Now that I’m cruising and doing overnights, I’ve found I have more power available on the boat than I do when I’m plugged in at the dock. I can run the air conditioner and all the electrical appliances on the boat without ever worrying that I’ll run out of power. The generator runs a half-hour or an hour per day, and I can schedule it.”
“Electric and hybrid propulsion for sailboats makes sense,” concludes Dr. Kuehmann. “It works very well, and it makes spending time on the boat much more enjoyable.”