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Car ferries – the latest electric vehicles

What does a zippy two-seater sports car have in common with a plodding oceangoing car ferry? Both are moving into the new century under clean, high-tech electric power. A Scottish shipbuilder has announced plans for the world’s first PHEV ships. Operator CalMac Ferries will use the two roll-on-roll-off car ferries on short routes around Scotland’s Hebrides Islands.

Each of the 142-foot ships will have a capacity of 150 passengers and 23 cars, and will produce 20 per cent less carbon emissions than traditional ferries. Small diesel generators will supply power to the electric motors, and the lithium-ion battery packs will be recharged overnight while the ferries are in port. Several offshore wind and wave power projects are underway in Scotland, and those will eventually provide power for recharging the batteries.

The 20 million-pound contract is a much-needed boost for Ferguson Shipbuilders of Glasgow, supporting as many as 200 jobs in the depressed Clyde shipbuilding area.

Alex Neil, Scotland’s Infrastructure Secretary, said, “The two new ferries will come into operation in 2013 and are the world’s first seagoing passenger and vehicle roll-on roll-off ferries to incorporate a low-carbon hybrid system of diesel electric and battery power. The technology will be cleaner, quieter and cheaper to operate and maintain than ever before.”


Image: Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited

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