News & Announcements

Volvo Penta Unveils Hybrid Marine Propulsion System

The revolutionary Inboard Performance System (IPS) Volvo Penta introduced in 2005 made shockwaves in the marine industry by facing the twin counter-rotating propellers forward rather than backwards.

The impact of this new design was recently recognized for its inventive design when Volvo Penta was asked to be a presenter at this year’s NYCxDESIGN, a global conference for the design industry.

Volvo Penta continues its push to change industry standards with its latest project: a hybrid variant of IPS. This newly designed propulsion system will allow boats to operate in low-and-zero emission zones plus offer owners lower noise, vibration and operating costs.

“A hybrid provides a flexible solution, one that maintains the high efficiency offered by the IPS system and adds the ability to run in zero emission environments,” Niklas Thulin, Volvo Penta’s Director of Electromobility, said in a company press release.

Built on Proven Technology

The initial versions of the IPS hybrid system is being designed for engines in the 8- to 13-liter range, which are suitable for powering vessels like ferries, pilot and supply boats, and yachts. This hybrid system is built on technology developed and proven within the Volvo Group and is now being adapted and certified for marine applications.

“With full torque from the electric motor available instantly, the boat will maintain the responsiveness and controllability that IPS is famous for in electric-only mode, as well as offering the ability to run at 10 to 12 knots,” Thulin said.

How it Works

The electric motor is powered by Li-ion battery packs that can be charged externally using AC or DC chargers or recharged using the primary diesel engine. A clutch is connected to the electric motor and installed between the diesel engine and IPS pod.

When the clutch is opened, the vessel is able to operate in the electricity-only mode. Both the electric and diesel engines can be operated when the clutch is closed. The captain is able to toggle between the two systems using the IPS interface.

Installation Options

The modular design of the battery packs allows customers to tailor the design of the hybrid system for both commercial and leisure vessels. One example is that a boat owner could opt for more battery capacity that would provide a longer period of electric-only cruising. This in turn could allow for a smaller diesel engine, which would reduce fuel costs.

The electric motor and batteries are maintenance free. The use of the electric-only mode also reduces run time for the diesel engine, which would result in lower service costs.


The parallel hybrid IPS is currently in early stage development, with the system being validated at Volvo Penta’s test center in Gothenburg, Sweden. A test boat is planned to enter sea trials in early 2020.

The company will be gathering customer input throughout the process, providing designers and engineers with critical input about the system’s performance. Volvo Penta expects to have the hybrid IPS available to commercial customers in 2021 with a leisure boat offering to soon follow.

Volvo Penta expects the system to evolve as more hybrid technologies become available, including an all-electric drive option.