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Ground-breaking maiden commercial voyage

Watch the video for a special behind-the-scenes-view, expert explanations and spectacular scenery. Designed for exploration in the heart of the Arctic, the Volvo Penta-powered hybrid-electric Kvitbjørn (translation: Polar Bear), has set off on its maiden commercial voyage from Longyearbyen, Svalbard – the world’s northernmost town, just 800 miles from the North Pole. The tourists on board are among the first in the world to experience the Arctic with this level of quiet cruising under electric power.

"We are so excited to see this vessel go into operation," says Johan Inden, President of the Volvo Penta Marine Business Unit. “We see electromobility as an enabler for many marine commercial operations – that have short, dedicated journeys – as our industry strives towards a zero CO2 emissions future. The Kvitbjørn operation fits our expected electromobility user case and we’re excited to learn how we can accelerate the journey toward sustainability, together.”

Kvitbjørn is the result of collaboration between partners Volvo Penta, Marell Boats, and Hurtigruten Svalbard who have established this three-year pilot project to test new electromobility technology in one of the world's most extreme maritime environments.
Powered by a complete helm-to-propeller Volvo Penta twin D4-320 DPI Aquamatic hybrid-electric solution, Kvitbjørn has a top speed of 30 knots, a cruising speed of 24 knots, and a range of 500 Nm.

“The integration of the Volvo Penta system into the Marell hull has run very smoothly,” says Gerard Törneman, Key Account Manager for commercial vessels at Marell Boats. “We collaborated from the beginning to identify the ideal boat design for the ultimate operation and sightseeing experience. Marell’s and Volvo Penta’s technicians have worked well together regarding the design and installation of important supporting systems for the arctic climate, like heating, ventilation, and charging system. This kind of collaboration is essential with hybrid and electric solutions to ensure the technology is an ideal fit for the intended use case.”

“We have been eager to test drive Kvitbjørn since its arrival to Svalbard in April,” says Tore Hoem, Adventures Director at Hurtigruten Svalbard. “The difference from a traditional boat is the feeling of silence. In electric mode, you can hear the sound of the glacier ice in the water, the breath of walruses – it will allow us to offer a truly unique experience to our customers. Enabling the optimal mix of low-speed, silent cruising, and the ability to cover a lot of distance for the 3–4-hour duration of the tour. We look forward to the experience of driving it – and expect our guests will be just as excited by the silent experience on board.”

In another first, Hurtigruten Svalbard will trial paying by the kilowatt-hour for the vessel’s operation. This pioneering e-mobility-as-a-service model, while still at a concept stage, could revolutionize how customers purchase and use marine e-mobility solutions, particularly as upfront costs can be higher. As a method of risk-sharing between Volvo Penta and the end-user, it could also offer great benefits to early adopters.


Exhibitor; Volvo Penta
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