New Zealand’s Auckland Transport (AT) has signed contracts with Q-West Boat Builders and HamiltonJet to build a 300 passenger hybrid-electric ferry.

The company state that it will be identical to the vessel Q-West are currently building, at 32 metres long with space for 300 passengers and around 28 bikes and with construction starting in late 2023 and it will be on the water early 2026.

This is the fourth low emission ferry confirmed for Auckland Transport and the second being built by Q-West and the company plans to use this vessel on the Devonport route from 2026.

Auckland Transport is set to have the largest electric ferry fleet in the Southern Hemisphere by 2030. Auckland’s first two fully electric vessels will arrive next year, built by EV Maritime at Auckland boat builders McMullen and Wing, followed by Q-West’s two electric-hybrid vessels in 2025-2026. More will follow in the coming years as the current fleet of diesel ferries reach the end of their working life. These new vessels will operate hand in hand with owner operated vessels as part of the transition to low emission vessels over the coming years.

The vessel is planned to cost around $20m, with 49% coming from Auckland Council’s Climate Action Targeted Rate and 51% coming from Waka Kotahi, the company states.

Councillor and Chair of Auckland’s Transport & Infrastructure Committee John Watson, says that the programme will see Auckland’s vessels move from private ownership to public ownership. Owned by Auckland (via AT) for the benefit of Auckland.

Councillor Watson also said that “It is a significant commitment to reduce emissions, improve reliability, and protect the Waitematā for future generations.”

AT’s Programme Director for the Low Emission Ferry Programme, Nathan Cammock, says it is incredibly exciting to see Auckland and New Zealand continuing to lead the way with modern, low emission public transport.

“Our new low emission ferries have greater passenger capacity, improved accessibility, and a more consistent customer experience compared to our current fleet. With significantly more space for bikes it will make it easier for people to cycle at either end of their ferry trip”, says Mr Cammock.

Q-West Boat Builders, Hamilton Jet and Incat Crowther are again part of the team building the new vessel and Q-West Chief Executive Colin Mitchell is delighted Q-West has been selected to construct the second 32 metre hybrid ferry.

“This new vessel will likely be completed in Q-West’s new facility at the Whanganui Port where we will be able to maintain and repair ferries and other commercial craft. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Auckland Transport and Fullers360,” says Mr Mitchell.