Volvo Penta acquires majority stake in marine battery systems pioneer ZEM

Volvo Penta is expanding by becoming the majority shareholder of Norwegian marine battery and electric driveline solutions supplier ZEM AS. ZEM hopes to benefit form Volvo Penta’s network while Volvo Penta seeks to accelerate marine electromobility development projects.

ZEM has delivered battery solutions to many different ships, ranging from ferries, offshore supply vessels, and high-speed passenger ships, to lifeboats and the booming aquaculture sector. This includes the battery systems to the SMM 2016 Ship of the Year Vision of the Fjords, as well as the world’s fastest battery-driven catamaran Ryger Elektra and the first electric free-fall lifeboats Viking Norsafe.

‘As a part of the Volvo Group’s great electromobility initiatives, Volvo Penta has a solid technology foundation to leverage. Marine electromobility, however, has a unique set of requirements,’ explains Peter Granqvist, Chief Technology Officer, Volvo Penta. ‘There are very specific considerations that are of the utmost importance around the installation environment, safety, as well as the use case itself plus the current lack of charging infrastructure.’

These are challenging issues that require innovative problem-solving and experience. In addition, marine regulations differ from those on-road.

‘We believe that bringing different perspectives and experiences together is key when it comes to developing, and progressing, within the field of marine electromobility,’ he continues. ‘The ambition of this fantastic acquisition is to take another step forward in our electromobility development.’

Towards net-zero emissions

In order to advance the Volvo Group’s sustainability agenda, Volvo Penta recently announced that it was redirecting further resources into accelerating its product development. The ambition is to reach net-zero emissions through fossil-free, renewable fuels, electric, and hybrid technology while continuing to provide efficient solutions to the marine industry.

ZEM will remain operating under its current brand, and under the leadership of Egil Mollestad, the long-term CEO of ZEM. Although ZEM will continue to grow its battery and complete driveline business, over time the two companies will create complete packages together.

Volvo Penta did not reveal what it pays for the shares, yet says the transaction has no significant impact on the Volvo Group’s earnings or financial position.

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Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.