The days of petrol driven hire boats on the River Avon appear to be numbered as plans to upgrade the fleet to electric, possibly as early as 2024, were revealed last week.
Avon Boating, the main provider of small hire boats on the river, completed a successful three-month trial with an electric boat last year, and now plans to gradually phase out petrol motors.
It’s not just the environmental benefits that are driving the decision, the lack of engine noise emitted by electric boats is also part of the appeal.
The project will come with challenges though, as upgrading the fleet will be costly.
Nick Birch, managing director of Avon Boating, said: “The electric boat trial last year did go very well, people absolutely loved how quiet they were and how simple they were to use. The petrol boats are as quiet as they can be, but they still make a noise. From our side, the electric boat proved very easy to hire out.
“We have not quite decided exactly which model of electric boat we are going to use, we may do further trials to help choose one, but the electric boat market isn’t as developed as the electric car market, there’s not that many to pick from at the moment.
“We can’t say for certain when all our boats will be electric, but hopefully around 2024, it’s our aspiration. I will be a challenge doing it though, both technically and financially.”
It is expected that Avon Boating will look to gradually look to upgrade its 20 small hire boats, with four or five being replaced with electric models each year.
The larger traditional wooden cruiser boats used by Avon Boating have already been operating under electricity for around 20 years.