You say it will take 10 years. In that time, will Beneteau have innovated the entire production process?
It’s a long time, and a lot will have changed by then.
It’s also about reducing the CO2 footprint in production, right?
When looking at the carbon footprint it’s not just the production process. When it comes to the materials you buy, the question is: Where do they come from? What is the delivery route? By railway, by sea, by truck? We now start with a model for material procurement, continue with the production process and end with the life cycle. No one has done this before us in such a deep detail. We want to develop that as a reference and understand exactly how we can optimize the processes.
For one boat, that’s about six months of work for one person full time. We have 150 models in total. We therefore need to develop very precise benchmarks for similar products: For a catamaran, a monohull, an outboard, a flybridge boat. Then we scale up and down based on those dimensions.
Let’s look at the buyers and what they want: Currently, most of them want to be fast on the water. The boat should be big, and it should be luxurious. That doesn’t go well with sustainability: you need more material, bigger machines, more energy.
If people want to be very fast, you have to tell them that this reduces the time in motion and the range. And explain to them that they use five times as much energy. So that can’t be the right answer for the market.
Let’s look at the Mindful Cruising concept from Delphia. Or Beneteau’s trawlers, which already have a slower boat concept. We have also been able to slow down some flybridge yachts because we are more focused on a sustainable attitude. Our catamarans with flybridge can already save 30% in emissions and consumption. The trend is clearly going in this direction.
Until recently, the thought of an electric car was a nightmare, because you thought you were stopping halfway. You have to change your attitude. You can drive long distances, but you have to plan differently. We can’t force customers, but we can convince them. That’s why we need pilot projects: to change the technology, to develop the technology further, and to prepare for the next big step. The change will come, the entire industry will have to change.
Speaking about electric motors: Do you work with other e-motor manufacturers besides Torqeedo?
We work with different suppliers, we are not married to anyone. There’s a lot going on right now. We are cooperating with Vision Marine Technologies for the boating outboard, with Torqeedo for the monohulls and multihulls. And with Volvo Penta, we are working on a project for a hybrid engine. This drive will be the game changer of the coming years.
How do the sustainable materials impact you financially?
The sustainable Elium resin is two to three times more expensive. That adds up to maybe 20,000 Euros for a 500,000 Euro boat. So the resin is not that relevant in terms of cost. But the impact on the environment is huge. It will become even bigger, the more parts of the production get integrated into our transformation process. That’s where I put my focus: on the impact of the whole Transformation.