Soliloquy’s Sustainable Passage


Libby Banks | May 19, 2010

Will eco credentials give the superyacht industry a much-needed boost?

Designs for a new eco superyacht, which claims to be carbon neutral, have been unveiled by 24-year-old British designer Alastair Callender. The 58 meter long Soliloquy will be covered in energy-gathering photovoltaic cells and will be propelled using wind, solar and marine power with three fixed sails doubling as solar panels. The interior will feature recycled leather, wood from sustainable forests, along with all accessories such as plasma televisions and champagne fridges powered by natural energy.

The young designer has said that he hopes that his approach can become a new type of status symbol amongst the super-rich. In recent times, especially before the crisis, focus on innovation in the industry has focused on ever larger, and often more polluting, yachts – Roman Abromavich’s Eclipse provides a case in point. Although Callender’s plans to change this are perhaps guilty of a little idealism, the $60m vessel is already attracting interest since being unveiled in Abu Dhabi and Monaco, and the design has received the coveted Condé Nast Innovation & Design Award.

Monaco-based yacht broker Hein Velema said that he has received enquiries from clients who are prepared to pay a substantial amount more to go green. Velema says while the super-rich feel the effect of the economic hangover, the Soliloquy provides a perfect opportunity for HNWIs to spend without the guilt. No doubt, the superyacht industry will watch closely to see how this flurry of interest will pan out in reality.
Another project hoped to inject some excitement, and cash, into the industry is Porsche’s collaboration with Royal Falcon Fleet. The first vessel in this highly anticipated series is due for delivery later this year. Meanwhile Mercedes has announced that the company’s aesthetic will be translated to yachts as part of its “Mercedes-Benz Style” division.

Recovery is in sight for the superyacht industry, but it is still badly bruised from an extended period of slow business, cancelled orders and redundancy. As it dusts itself off, what’s clear is that the industry re-emerging is not the same beast as it was pre-crisis. Eco and auto might be very different approaches, but they both show the industry’s recognition of a need to offer something new to capture the imaginations of cautious customers and boost sluggish demand. Whether this is about short-term novelty or a long-term solution will be tested during the coming months as these projects come into fruition.

Guardian – 6 May 10
PSFK – 7 May 10
Autoevolution – 10 May 10
Financial Times – 10 May 10