New Zealand operator eyes second fully-electric ferry

Written by Nick Blenkey
Fully-electric ferry on water

Fully-electric ferry Ika Rere is showing huge fuel cost savings compared with diesel vassels. [Image: © Stellar Studio]

The success of New Zealand’s first fully-electric passenger ferry, Ika Rere, is prompting its owner, East By West Ferries, to push ahead with plans to order a second electric vessel. It will be the second to be built by Wellington Electric Boat Building Company (WEBBCo), a joint venture between the ferry operator and established boatbuilder Fraser Foote.

As fuel costs rise globally, East By West is reaping the benefits of the 132 passenger Ika Rere electric vessel, with incremental route energy costs being slashed by 82%. A round trip to Days Bay on Ika Rere costs just NZD 28 (about US$18) in electricity, slightly higher than one Adult passenger fare. This equates to cost savings of NZD 180,000 (about US$116,000) per year when compared to the operator’s diesel boats.

By adding another electric vessel to the fleet, East by West will be able to run its entire existing schedule using the two fully-electric ferries. With greater onboard energy storage, a second fully-electric ferry is set to save the operator a further NZD 280,000 (about US$181,000) per year in overall energy costs.

“Following an in-depth business case, and with the success of Ika Rere, we’ve made the decision to push for funding for a second fully-electric ferry to be built by WEBBCo,” says Jeremy Ward, managing director at East By West Ferries. “We always knew we wanted to expand our electric-powered route capabilities, and with global interest in New Zealand’s electric boatbuilding, we wanted to secure a build slot for the second vessel. Ika Rere is performing exceptionally well, and we had no hesitation about continuing with our partners.”

The second electric vessel will be a sistership to Ika Rere, and run on the existing route between Queens Wharf – Matiu/Somes Island – and Days Bay. It will carry 132 passengers; however, says WEBBCo, it will be equipped with a newer iteration of battery technology, enhancing onboard energy storage. Both vessels will be charged at Queens Wharf, with the potential to expand charging infrastructure to use the new megawatt charging standard (MCS), which is also being considered within the project.

CEOs of fully-electric ferry builder and operator
Fraser Foote, WEBBCo and Jeremy Ward, East by West Ferries [Photo: Simon Hoyle, Southlight Studio]
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