Southern hemisphere’s first electric ferry launched

Ika Rere is the Southern Hemisphere’s first zero-emission passenger, fully electric ferry, launched last month.

East by West Ferries has officially launched Ika Rere, the Southern Hemisphere’s first zero-emission passenger, fully electric ferry. The launching ceremony took place in Wellington, New Zealand, last month.


The vessel will help Wellington achieve its aim of being a carbon-neutral city by 2050. Note that a drivetrain system provided by Danfoss’ Editron division is powering the electric ferry.

Research by the New Zealand Government has found that domestic ships (ferries and freighters) emit close to 300,000 tons of CO2 every year. In Wellington, nearly 50% of the city’s emissions result from the transportation sector in 2020. With the local council committing to becoming a net-zero-carbon city by 2050, introducing alternative energy forms of transportation is crucial. 


The 19-meter-long Ika Rere ferry can carry up to 132 passengers on journeys across Wellington Harbour at an operational speed of 20 knots

It has been designed and built to complete one return run of 25 km before charging dockside. Specifically, at a rate of 1MW for 15 minutes while passengers disembark and board. On a daily basis, the ferry will charge from a 300kW charger at its overnight berth during its first year of operation.


Moreover, the Ika Rere ferry will save approximately 640 tons of CO2 annually compared to a similar-sized diesel alternative.

New Zealand electrical company McKay acted as the project’s lead electrical designer and system integrator. Hence, chose one of Danfoss’ Editron drivetrain systems to power the electric ferry. 

Particularly, the system consists of; 2 propulsion motors, 2 grid solutions for the AC network, and 6 DC/DC converters connected to the vessel’s batteries. All of these components operate via a DC cabinet and are an electronic control system.

electric ferry

“As companies, cities and countries around the world continue to set CO2 reduction targets, the demand for zero-emission vessels and machines continues to growOur Editron marine system provides outstanding efficiencies within a power range of up to 6MW. It is also compact and lightweight, enabling space and weight savings and increasing design freedom.” 

Erno Tenhunen, marine director of Danfoss’ Editron division

“While Ika Rere has cost more than an equivalent-sized diesel boat, we will make savings back over time thanks to its cheaper running costs. The ferry’s electric motors, provided by Danfoss’ Editron division, require less maintenance than traditional diesel versions. The cost of charging the vessel’s batteries is also significantly less than filling it up with diesel,” 

Jeremy Ward, managing director of East by West Ferries

The Ika Rere ferry will complete survey sea trials before entering a commissioning stage with East by West Ferries. 

It will undertake a number of public sailings during the commissioning phase before being released into full service by the end of Q1 in 2022.

Nerd Thoughts

The race for alternative energy sources within the shipping industry has already started.

Therefore, the industry players are constantly developing electric and hybrid passenger vessels, especially for inland routes. At this point, it goes without saying that electric propulsion concepts are a must for near-shore operations.

On another approach, the first high-speed hybrid ferry in the UK is presented from Uber Boat. Thus delivering a future-friendly option that has even greener potential as and when technology allows..

It is exciting to witness the harnessing of wind energy for ship propulsion and its developments. Hope for more soon…

Source: East by West