Full integration is the way ahead for France’s leading manufacturer of propeller drive systems, which is working on an electric version writes Dag Pike.

The new strategy was revealed at Cannes Boat Show

The new strategy was revealed at Cannes Boat Show

France Helices, which manufactures propulsion systems for boats both in the leisure and commercial sectors, is convinced that unless the electric motor and the drive system are fully integrated then the propulsion system cannot be optimised to get maximum benefit from electric propulsion. This move also reflects the growing trend towards the development of fully integrated propulsion systems. A spokesman for the company revealed the new strategy at the Cannes Boat Show: “We are working on this development in order to maximise the benefits of electric propulsion. Unless the motor and the propulsion system are closely matched the benefits of a ‘green’ system will not be realised”.

The initial development is likely to be focussed on slower displacement boats using the company’s established propulsion systems that feature optimised propellers. “We have found from trials that it is vital to optimise the characteristics of the electric motor to that of the propeller for optimum efficiency.” For faster craft France Helices produces a range of surface drives and these are likely to feature as the electric prolusion market develops.

France Helices is also expanding its range of products and recognising that trim and stabilising systems are now becoming an important part of the propulsion market, they are offering an Italian-developed range of interceptors that can be used to both stabilise the boat as well as optimising the trim for maximum efficiency. Interceptors are increasingly important in optimising boat propulsion for both fast and slow boats and by optimising, even a slow boat travelling at around 12 knots can find extra speed by subtle changes of trim.

This work by France Helices recognises that the market is looking for more integrated propulsion systems that embrace both optimising the boat as well as the propulsion system itself in order to obtain maximum efficiency. This can be particularly critical when using electric propulsion where the weight and capacity of the battery pack has to be balanced against the power consumption and this is where France Helices hopes that a fully integrated system will the right route ahead for propulsion.