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True North 34 goes hybrid

True North Yachts plans to build a version of its 34-foot cruiser with diesel-electric propulsion - the 34G. "We're tooling things up now," True North director Patrick McLoughlin says. "We have two or three potential buyers."

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The boat will use the Steyr Hybrid Drive system. Two 24-volt lithium-ion batteries will feed an electric motor coupled to the transmission of a single Steyr 280-hp diesel. The electric motor can work on its own for low-speed propulsion or team with the diesel to increase efficiency during acceleration, known as boost mode, McLoughlin says. The company estimates that the 34G will run for more than four hours at as much as 6 knots solely on electric power.

"Many of our customers use their boats to just cruise around the harbor or Intracoastal," McLoughlin says. "With the quiet, clean operation, the 34G offers more of an attachment to the outdoors."

The electric motor also will send 48-volt power to recharge the battery bank, and an inverter/charger will provide AC for the hot-water heater, microwave and air conditioning, rendering a generator unnecessary, he says. True North estimates the boat's cruise speed with the Steyr diesel at 19 knots and the top speed at 22 knots. With its standard propulsion - a single 370-hp Volvo Penta D-6 diesel - it cruises at 22 knots and hits 25 knots at wide-open throttle.

The True North 34G has a retail price of $395,000, which includes a carbon fiber canopy, canopy-mounted solar panels for battery charging, LED lighting and the battery bank ($355,000 with the Volvo).

Contact: True North Yachts, Warren, R.I., (401) 247-3000.

This article originally appeared in the June 2011 issue.