In 2018, Nicols designed and built the first completely electric powered canal boat. We think this more environmentally friendly way of cruising is set to revolutionise the world of boating holidays.
Creating our electric powered canal boat took two years of planning, designing and building. The conclusion was in 2018 when we launched the three-cabin Sixto Green – a 100% electric powered boat and the first of its kind on European waterways.
There is no engine or onboard generator – instead electric power is produced from on board lithium-ion batteries. The non-polluting and totally silent boat has aptly been named ‘green’!
Like with many other areas of the tourism industry, progression in sustainable tourism and responsible tourism is just as important within the waterways holiday sector that Nicols operates in. Our aim is to be able to continue enjoying the natural environments that our holidays are based around (the canals and rivers) while having as little impact on them and their surroundings as possible. The electric powered Sixto Green is our first step at responding to the growing demand for more environmentally friendly options.
Winter 2017: everyone was busy preparing for the first ever electric boat to leave the Nicols boatyard and head to the Alsace region.
From the initial idea through to it being built and the vital partnership with VNF (Voies Navigable de France), you can find out more about the story of what is a one-of-kind development in the world of boating holidays.
It was quite simple really! We began by taking one of our existing Estivale Sixto boats and created a way of replacing the method of power with an electric motor and lithium-ion batteries.
Recent years have seen great progress in electric powered vehicles such as cars. The technology is now reliable and well tested and we were able to benefit from these developments.
The Sixto Green is actually a lot lighter than the engine powered Sixto.
A standard Sixto engine weighs 250kg and there would also be onboard fuel of 270 litres (300kg) as well as four batteries weighing a further 120kg. This totals approximately 670kg.
In comparison, the electric motor of the Sixto Green is a very light 50kg and along with a 390kg battery bank and charger gives a total weight of just 440kg.
The lithium-ion battery bank provides enough charge for at least six hours of cruising which is perfect when we know the average amount of cruising per day is between four to five hours per day.
It’s worth noting that unlike an engine powered boat that runs continuously even when idle (for example when stopped in a lock), the electric motor will use zero energy consumption as soon as it is in neutral, in a lock or simply slowing down.
It takes just two hours to recharge the batteries of the Sixto Green. The recharging is done at specific charging stations that have been installed by VNF (Voies Navigables de France) on average every 11km along the canal. The charging stations are exclusively reserved for the electric boats and are accessible via a badge that is provided when you collect the boat from our base.
The touch-screen interface on the charging stations is in three languages (English, French and German) and some of the charging stations will even have the facility to refill your water supply while you’re there recharging the electric supply.
Breaking down is no more likely than when you are in your car!
As with a car dashboard, the boat has a battery life indicator so that you can constantly see the time/distance that can be achieved with the current charge. There is also a very detailed map showing the locations of the charging stations (you’ll always find one available as remember these mooring points are exclusively reserved for electric boats).