A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Industry challenges make us stronger

During the past year, fuel prices have been extremely volatile and seemed to be at their peak in the midst of the boating season. For some boaters, this season was a time to scale back on their boating. For others, it was a time to modify their boating habits so they could still enjoy their vessels without breaking the bank. Customer needs and the marketplace are changing, which creates the opportunity for something new and different.

While the marine industry has been developing new technology to meet stricter emission standards, there was little doubt that the logical next step was to implement hybrid technology to improve fuel efficiency and answer demands. Hybrid power allows the operator to utilize electric propulsion at low speeds to minimize or eliminate emissions, reduce noise, and lower fuel consumption. However, hybrid-powered boats can generate the horsepower needed to reach higher speeds when the internal combustion engine kicks into gear.

Some examples of recently introduced hybrid craft include the Scout 145, a full line of powerboats from Frauscher Bootswerft, and the Island Pilot DSe, which made its debut at the 2008 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Additionally, Steyr Motors, which powers the Frauscher and Island Pilot hybrid vessels, markets its hybrid engine as the “world’s first serial hybrid propulsion system for pleasure boats.” There’s also word around the industry that other large production marine manufacturers are researching hybrid propulsion and developing prototypes to include in their lineup of boats.

Hybrid vessels are using the latest, state-of-the-art technology. At Travelers, it is important that we closely follow the newest developments in boating so we can deliver innovative marine insurance products and services to meet our customers’ evolving needs. Offering the industry’s first insurance discount for hybrid-boat owners is just one more benefit for people making the decision to purchase them.

With the growing buzz and popularity of hybrid technology, it is appropriate that we understand these vessels using this technology from an insurance perspective. Travelers’ marine specialists thoroughly reviewed the functionality and operation of hybrid boats currently in the marketplace to gain an understanding of their operation. This helps us to best serve our customers in the unfortunate circumstance that they file a claim. When something goes wrong for someone that invested in a hybrid-powered boat, they need to get back into the water as quickly as possible, especially for those living in areas with a short boating season.

Rising fuel prices and the slowing economy will not stop boaters. Rather, those challenges will make the marine industry stronger through innovation and enhanced services that will be a benefit for everyone involved in boating.

For more information on the hybrid boat insurance discount, visit www.travelers.com.

Chantal Cyr
Vice President
Travelers Boat & Yacht Insurance Division


3 comments on “Industry challenges make us stronger

  1. Island Boy

    Interesting, however I thought this blog had rules about not using it for advertising purposes…….

    Hybrid vessel applications have a long way to go before it will become an acceptable form of propulsion overall. While Steyr has developed a power plant to support the concept and no doubt all other engine manufacturers will follow suit, battery technology hasn’t offered enough compact, light weight, battery performance solutions. When you consider, that current battery performance via shaft drive train can only provide low end idle performance for approx. 30-50 minutes of operation on the outside versus how long the engine must run (all while producing emissions) to recharge low use batteries. Cost, weight and battery performance issues will bog Hybrid applications down from getting traction in the market place for general use. I do agree that there are certain limited use opportunities for Hybrid marine applications at present, some using solar panels. I feel that developing solar technology combined with light weight higher performance batteries is key for Hybrid propulsion to be practical for vessels….

    The posters comments about the need for innovation in the marine industry are dead on right. Thinking outside the box for solutions as Steyr has done is to be commended. I firmly believe the time we are living in the marine industry is exciting. It is also scary! But I feel many needed positive changes are coming our way and the people/companies that champion change will be the future marine industry leaders.

  2. Arch

    Travelers is using a niche that might make up 1/100 of 1% of the boat industry in order to get some free PR.
    Why don’t you start offering 5% discount on boats with at least 10% “GREEN” content. An additional 5% for those built by manufacturers that go through a rigorous NMMA “GREEN” CERTIFICATION. Then we can present an award to the “GREENEST” boat builder on the planet and have Al Gore present them with the award.
    Listen, hybrids will not make even a ripple in our industry anytime in the next 10 years, and in 20 years it will still be a TINY fraction of our industry. I don’t blame Travelers for doing this, but frankly, it’s very insulting. Will there be even ONE reader of Trade Only that has a hybrid and is therefore interested in the story?

    How about this….
    Travelers is now offering the first industry discount on pontoon boats equipped for those in wheelchairs. or
    Travelers is now offering specialty insurance for the PORTA-BOAT, the specialty FOLDING BOAT that is ideal for todays boaters that just can’t afford the gas of a power boat, and couldn’t pull one anyways with their Prius.
    Shall I go on?

    Seriously folks, I need to go buy some boots because it’s getting pretty deep this year.

  3. Boatman11

    You are right on Arch……..

    All these Marine and Boating publications have become nothing more than PR Venues for advertisers. There is very little in real, hard hitting, tell-it-like-it-is reporting anymore. I sometimes can’t tell the difference between a real story, and a paid for advertisement. It’s too bad.

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