EV Maritime logo - XLabs case study

A better ferry future for our harbour cities

EV Maritime is a zero-emission maritime technology company setting out to deliver a better ferry future: initially for Auckland, then for the rest of New Zealand, and ultimately for harbour cities around the world.

Founder Michael Eaglen and his team have a bold ambition of displacing four million tonnes of global CO2 emissions by 2040 with ferries and ferry systems that can last forever – repairable, reusable and inspiring communities to engage with ocean regeneration.

3 people sitting on outside on grass brainstorming at XLabs
CBD methods:
Embedded intelligence
Networked participation
Circular Business Model
Maritime transport
Carbon emissions
Societal benefits
Reduced waste

The Team:
Michael Eaglen
James Morfee
Liam Dowling
John Little

The Challenge ­–

“Few people are lucky to have an intimate connection with the ocean on a timescale long enough to become aware of changes. Fishermen do, scuba divers do, but for most of us it’s just the blue bit beside the road as we are driving around the country”– Prof. Simon Thrush.

Today, Auckland’s ferries burn over 13 million litres of diesel every year, producing nearly half the emissions of Auckland’s entire bus fleet. We have a climate emergency going on and with our publicly-funded ferry fleets old, tired and up for replacement, it’s really important that we demand the replacements be zero emission. But there are other problems which need action too. Our harbours are beautiful to look at from above, but under the surface they are sick - and it’s because collectively we are taking them for granted*. Overfishing, pollution, land runoff, heavy metals, waste, climate change and even noise are having devastating impacts on marine life. We have to rethink the status quo. To redesign our harbour transport and its impact over the next 20+ years.

That’s what EV Maritime is here to do, bringing a new fleet of electric fast ferries to serve Auckland’s commuter services, and help regenerate our harbour city.

XLabs Circular by Design resources lying on table
EV Maritime sitting at table with Bree Asmus from XLabs

The Journey ­–

During their time at XLabs, EV Maritime explored a range of circular principles. They started by looking at minimizing waste and impact and designing out the end of life for the electric ferries in a physical sense.

Where XLabs took them was to ask - “If our ferries are going to last forever, how do we create the desire to use them forever? We investigated everything from closed loop systems with modular vessel design, to embedded intelligence with more responsive scheduling and decentralised electric charging, right through to helping instil more regenerative behaviours for our commuters so that we can encourage everyone to be part of caring more for our harbours.”

The Solution ­–

EV Maritime is developing an electric ferry fleet that will help cities move toward a more valuable, more regenerative economy. Each vessel will have the potential to displace about 1000 tonnes of CO2 each year*. Applying their ferries to Auckland would save over $300 million dollars from the cost of delivering public transport: money which can be invested, for example, toward restoring the Hauraki Gulf.

But it’s not just about carbon and saving money.  
- Their composite structure, which combines recycled and new materials, will have half the embedded energy of its aluminium equivalent. It’s lighter, saving huge amounts of energy over the boat’s lifetime.  It also lasts longer,without anywhere near as much maintenance and repair. 
- They are planning for the future life of their batteries, repurposing old batteries and ultimately looking at recovery of the materials through recycling.
- They are designing their vessels to be timeless, in both form and function. With that aim of lasting for 50 or 60 years rather than 15 or 20.  
- They are sharing data between the boats and the shore to create a smarter, more resilient ferry service which is more responsive and better integrated with other transport modes

“Our ferries will be a silent symbol of silent civic leadership, demonstrating the way we should care for what matters, for our communities, for each other, and of course, for our ocean environment.”

EV Maritime's vision of their future impact on circular economy in maritime

The Ambition ­–

EV Maritime is shaping a new way forward, starting right here in the waters of Tāmaki Makaurau.Their  ambition is to see at least 30 cities operating across the world with their electric ferry fleets – displacing over 4 million tonnes of carbon emissions by 2040.

“But for us at EV Maritime, XLabs has helped us to see that there are many deeper ways in which a circular economy lens can help us contribute. It’s given us more multi-dimensional ways of solving deep, systemic challenges - and ultimately - unlocking a path to the better future we want for our city, our country and the harbour cities of the world.” 

*State of our Gulf 2020