Source: Renault
Source: Renault

French automotive giant Renault has partnered with specialist maritime company Seine Alliance to unveil the Black Swan, the first electric boat designed specifically for private and business cruises on the Seine river which will be fitted with second life batteries.

The aim of Seine Alliance and its two partners – Groupe Renault and bespoke battery design company Green-Vision – is to demonstrate the effectiveness of circular economies which prioritise, in this instance, the reuse of electric batteries leading to a reduction in the need for extracting raw materials.

The Black Swan – which was unveiled to professionals last week at the Atelier du France – boasts zero emissions in operation and can fit between 2 and 8 people for a duration of around 2 hours.

Powered by two electric motors and requiring no generator or back-up internal combustion engine, the Black Swan is described as “a voluntary transformation approach towards reducing the impact of river activities on the environment.”

Most importantly, the Black Swan is powered by lithium-ion batteries taken from Renault electric vehicles once they have reached the end of what Renault describes as their “first car life” but which are then re-conditioned and re-purposed.

Installed beneath the Black Swan’s side bench seats in four battery stainless steel housings, the batteries are housed water-tight compartments.

“As host to COP 21 in 2015 and the Olympic Games in 2024, Paris has a duty to provide innovative solutions for the environment,” said Didier Spade, Chairman of Seine Alliance in a statement.

“Seine has already shown itself to be exemplary in respect of energy performances in the transport sector. Our company has once again brought an electric boat project to fruition with the aim of raising the awareness of all of the river’s users.”

Each of the Black Swan’s two propellers is connected to two battery arrays that have a nominal power output of 10 kW (and 20 kW at maximum power) which effortlessly allows the boat to reach cruising speeds.

Unsurprisingly, the unveiling of the Black Swan also heralds the Seine Alliance’s plans to transition its fleet of boats to 100% electric by 2024.

The Black Swan will be demonstrated to press in the first quarter of 2020 at the same time as it comes into service (reliant upon necessary government permits), at which time the Seine Alliance will also retrofit an analogue boat with electric propulsion.

‘We are proud of having contributed to the Black Swan project alongside Seine Alliance and Green-Vision,” said Gilles Normand, senior VP for electric vehicles at Groupe Renault.

“Once again, this approach has shown that, used in a second life as energy storage units, the batteries from our electric vehicles represent an essential lever for the acceleration of the energy transition.”

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