I’ve heard that hybrid engine technology is now being used to power boats. What’s happening with that?
—D. Smith, Portland, ME
With concerns about climate change and the fate of the world’s imperiled oceans and waterways at an all time high, it makes sense that the boating industry would be looking into greener ways to try to do their part and to attract some of those increasing numbers of environmentally conscious customers.
Americans spend 500 million hours zipping around in recreational boats each year. But until recently the engines on these boats were held to much lower efficiency standards than their automotive counterparts. Last year the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced new more stringent emissions standards for marine engines—both in-board and outboard—that will go into effect in 2010. In fact, several hybrid boats are already on the market, boasting emission ratings well below the new standards.
The 24-foot Endeavor Green Electric Hybrid can run all day on an electric charge that costs only 11 cents and generates no emissions, kicking into a small diesel generator only if the boat’s eight batteries run dry. And when owners can charge the batteries via solar or wind power, the boats have a zero carbon footprint. Florida-based Craig Catamaran Corp. last year launched a hybrid version of its compact catamaran-style speedboat. The sporty little two-seater, which is light enough to be towed by a Mini Cooper or Smart Car, can run for eight hours on less than a gallon of gas, and costs less than $6,000 all in.