A Green Water Taxi for a Historic City

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In a historic city like Venice traditions run deep, so getting the local water taxi operators to use anything but internal combustion engines to propel their water taxis can be a challenge.

To address that, two Venetian designers created a hybrid propulsion luxury water taxi that has now been certified for use on Venice’s canals.

Superyacht designers Carlo Nuvolari and his partner Dan Lenard of Venice’s Nuvolari Lenard Design Studio created a luxury water taxi with a diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system to help clean up the city’s canals. The hybrid system allows the water taxi to use diesel power to cross the open water to the airport—giving the batteries time to recharge—and electric drive while cruising the canals inside city limits.

The prototype boat, Thunder, was built at the Cantieri Vizianello shipyard in Venice, which developed the hybrid system. The boat was tested for about a year, and Nuvolari Lenard hopes that the new design will change the mindset of the historically conservative transport companies in Venice.

“As Venetians, Dan and I feel a strong connection with the city and have experienced first-hand the damage that is being caused to its delicate structures, through air and noise pollution as well as physical erosion,” Nuvolari says. “We felt that it was crucial to address the problems facing our beautiful hometown, through a unique project dedicated to helping Venice.”

The new design uses traditional wooden materials with some modernization. Nuvolari Lenard has already received a request for the 30-foot design to be used as a limousine tender for a superyacht client.

The company is also in discussions with an Asian car manufacturer about a hydrogen fuel propulsion system. “Pushing boundaries in design and technology for marine transportation is something we try to do each day with our superyacht, production yacht and custom tender projects,” Nuvolari says. “Venice is a stunning place that we want to help preserve for future generations.”

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