San Antonio’s iconic river barges go electric

Published 8:36 am Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Special to The Leader

In 2018, San Antonio turns 300. To celebrate it’s Tri-centennial and commitment to a sustainable future, the city is reimagining it’s fleet of water taxi, tour and charter barges that service it’s world-famous River Walk. Each of the 43 boats will be powered by quiet, emission-free Torqeedo Cruise 10.0 motors and high-capacity lithium batteries, the most advanced, fully electric propulsion system available. They’ll provide passengers and those shore-side a clean, enjoyable experience that’s odor-free and environmentally friendly.

The search for a new look began in 2015 with a national design competition. The winning proposal was inspired by papel picado, a colorful, intricate regional folk art. While the pill-shaped barges’ decorative railings will reflect San Antonio’s historical and cultural character, their use of the latest in marine propulsion technology demonstrates the city’s promise to enhance the environment and quality of life for future generations.

Torqeedo’s Cruise 10.0 motor will provide plenty of power for the 42-passenger, 27.5’ aluminum vessels. And their batteries will easily complete up to 11-hour days before recharging at one of San Antonio’s two marinas.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with the City of San Antonio on this project,” said Steve Trkla, president of Torqeedo, Inc. “Electric water taxis and tour boats are fast becoming commonplace in North America. San Antonio is a forward-thinking city that recognizes the huge advantages electric propulsion provides.”

Torqeedo offers fully integrated, yet modular, systems that can easily be expanded if range and runtime requirements change. San Antonio saw value in this flexibility. Keeping an eye on future needs was an important factor in their selecting Torqeedo. The electric motors will require much less maintenance than combustion engines and will insulate the operator from fluctuating fuel costs.

The City of San Antonio awarded the $6.5M manufacturing contract to Wisconsin-based Lake Assault Boats, a division of Fraser Shipyards. Production of the full fleet will be completed in time for the 2018 Tri-Centennial Celebration.