Danish yacht builder X-Yachts has thrown its weight behind the electric mobility revolution with the launch of its first all-electric boat.
Called the X49E, the 15.08m boat has been a close collaboration between a very motivated owner and the yard’s expert technical team. It has also been a question of careful timing according to X-Yachts’ CEO Kraen Nielsen.
“We didn’t want to be first movers on this area, but preferred to wait until technology and knowledge had matured properly,” he said. “And I’m really happy to say that the time is finally right to present the first X-Yacht with electric propulsion.”
The beating heart of the system is the propulsion package designed by Finland’s Oceanvolt, with twin 10kW electric drives hooked up to 28.8kWh of lithium-ion batteries running at 48V. Variable pitch propellers make for super-efficient propulsion and, when running under sail, regeneration to recharge the batteries. Add in solar panels and a highly efficient DC generator to extend range, and you have a flexible package.
X-Yachts calculates that the twin drives will be able to push the boat at a top speed of 7.3 knots. With the efficient hull shape drawn by the X-Yachts design team, the boat has a range of 9-12 nautical miles maxed out in electric mode. At 5 knots, the range more than doubles to between 22 and 30 nautical miles, depending on sea state and wind. At 4 knots, the range could touch 50 miles without starting the DC generator.
“Every X-Yacht is designed with performance in mind – and the X4⁹E is no exception,” said Technical Manager John Morsing. “The hybrid concept on build number one has been chosen to make long-distance crossings possible without worrying about range limitations. When the DC generator is started and supplying the two Servoprops with 10-11kW of power, the boat is able to sail at 6.4 knots for as long as there’s fuel on board.”
Regeneration is a key element of the system, because it allows the boat to generate her own power when sailing. Using Oceanvolt’s variable pitch system effectively supercharges the regeneration technology by optimising the angle of the propeller’s blades for maximum turning power – perfectly matching the speed of the water. In this way, the boat can generate up to 3kW – enough to fully recharge the battery bank in under 10 hours. The drag runs from negligible to around 2 knots, depending on boat speed.
Hull number one will be sailed intensively by her new owner, who plans plenty of long-distance cruising and racing, as well as a transatlantic run at some point. “To commit to an electric saildrive is a mindset and perhaps a changed way of life at sea,” he said. “Sailing is all about harnessing the wind for energy and pleasure – X-Yachts and Oceanvolt have taken this mindset to the next level.”
X-Yachts takes the sustainability of its yachts seriously, and already builds with close to 100 per cent green Danish electricity at its Haderslev shipyard. It is also the main sponsor of the Race for Oceans Foundation, which aims to clean up plastic pollution at sea. But the yard is also committed to exceptional standards of design and build quality, which is why it has bided its time on electric propulsion.
X-Yachts has always prided itself on its craftsmanship and innovation, using state-of-the art build techniques and the highest quality materials to deliver safe, fast yachts that offer superior sailing pleasure. Vacuum infusion using epoxy resin and Corecell foam is allied to rod rigging, real teak decking and the leading brands for deck hardware. Production cost is not the yard’s main focus. It prioritises features and the best equipment, no matter the cost.
In the end, X-Yachts has shown time and again that performance and comfort go hand in hand. A yacht that sails efficiently, accelerates well, heels less and punches through waves better is faster, safer and more enjoyable. And it is more sustainable, too, requiring less power to drive it forward – something the X49E capitalises on. So, in many ways, electric propulsion was the natural next step for a brand that puts the sailing experience front and centre.