The Taiwanese harbor city of Kaohsiung has launched a new hybrid ferry, which aims to curb greenhouse and diesel emissions for marine passenger transport across the region.

Kaohsiung recently relaunched the Cijin Island passenger ferry, retrofitted with a Visedo Marine electric propulsion system to replace the original diesel engine. It heralds Asia’s first hybrid-electric ferry and, if successful, the Kaohsiung city government plans to retrofit the rest of its diesel fleet to help reduce pollution levels around Taiwan’s largest harbor.

Visedo, a Finnish manufacturer of electric drivetrains for marine vessels, worked alongside Taiwan’s Ship and Ocean Industries R&D Center, also known as SOIC, to complete the retrofit.

Kaohsiung’s new e-ferry, Ferry Happiness, will halve daily fuel consumption while transporting 15,000 passengers every day to Cijin Island, a popular tourist destination in Taiwan, at a top speed of nine knots.

Launching from berth every 15 minutes, the ferry will help share the eight million passengers who travel the 650m route every year. It’s estimated the electric propulsion will save more than 25,000 liters of fuel every year.

Visedo retrofitted the 100-ton, 23m-long vessel with an electric system to replace the original 300hp diesel engine. The powertrain was designed to ensure pure-electric cruising for half the ferry’s operation time; with fast shore charging, this pure-electric percentage can be higher.

Visedo CEO Kimmo Rauma said, “Given the geography, ferries are a vital mode of public transport across East and Southeast Asia but they are also the most energy intensive per kilometer traveled. Until now, diesel ferries have been a dirty but necessary part of life around harbors like Kaohsiung.

“Visedo has developed a cost-effective and efficient alternative, so rather than waiting until a vessel’s service life ends, harbor cities can swap noisy, dirty and expensive diesel for silent electric powertrains that are more efficient, can halve fuel costs and emit no fumes or oil pollution.”