Getting a better charge out of electric boating
AMSTERDAM _ When the Netherlands’ 23-member Electric and Hybrid Boating Federation put a few demo boats at the 2012 Amsterdam in-Water Boat show, the response was heartening. In only 5 days, 2,000 people showed up for a test ride across the IJ waterway that cuts through the Dutch capital. That response told the electric-and-hybrid sector it is on the right track.
Electric-hybrid boating in the Netherlands has seen an increase in recent years of 25%. Today, 4,500 such craft ply Dutch lakes, canals and rivers. Still, the Dutch electric sector senses a public skepticism. To help erase that, it is planning a large-scale market survey in the 2nd half of 2013.
The electric boating federation’s director Marcel Schaap, tells the trade magazine Jachtbouw Nederland: “Despite much austerity, the Dutch government still has funds for this sort of research. Electric or hybrid-driven vessels have still not penetrated all policy levels, but we see a growing interest. Because it embraces themes that are important: environment, energy use, economic development and technical innovation.”
The planned survey is “not just about counting boats,” says Schaap. “We want to get a handle on the economic potential of electric boating. We’ll also explore behavioral aspects. There are barriers that keep people away from electric or hybrid propulsion. We have all sorts of theories about that, but we need to be sure. Once we have a clear profile of potential buyers we’ll know how to communicate with them.”
The study will also look at export. Schaap says almost a third of electric-hybrid vessels made in the Netherlands are exported. The industry wants a more detailed picture of export markets. Schaap says the electric-hybrid boating sector is witnessing innovations at a fast pace. Electric-hybrid engines are getting more powerful, smaller and at the same time longer-lasting while the boats themselves are getting lighter.