Hybrid Vehicle – Rediscovering the canals

Some time ago (December 2009) there has been the launch in Amsterdam of the Fuel Cell Boat, a hybrid vehicle powered by a Hydrogen Fuel Cell and used to guide tourists around in Amsterdam, showing them the best spots on the famous canals. I’m curious how this boat is doing now, the latest update from the website has been ages ago.

The Fuel Cell Boat in Amsterdam

After the launch of the Fuel Cell Boat (early 2010), there was the launch of an electric boat in the canals of Utrecht, which is used to supply the shops in centre of Utrecht. It has a large crane to load and unload containers of goods at street level. Initially this was just used for the restaurants and bars, hence the earlier reference as ‘Beer Boat”, but it is now also used to supply other shops with.

The `Stroomboot` in action

It is a nice example not only of sustainable transport; as there are no more emissions and noise in the old centre of Utrecht, but it also preserves the canals and allows shops to have refills at a more convenient time. Heavy trucks are only allowed into the city centre at specific times, so loading a truck will not hinder pedestrians in the shopping areas. On top of that, there is a limit to the total weight of such trucks, so as to not damage the old bridges. How many win-win-win situations can you create in a single sustainable solution?

The Amsterdam hybrid cargo boat is put into its natural habitat

In Amsterdam the second cargo supply boat is found, a similar vessel, though hybrid, is roaming the canals there, for the exact same reasons as in Utrecht. These ships are manufactured by Bocxe from Delft and Koeleman Elektro from Mijdrecht for the electronics. The aim is (obviously) to sell more of these beauties and replace heavy trucks by transport through the canals.


These canal boats are the new retro; the canals have been used a lot a long time ago, until the introduction of the (ICE) trucks which made supply a much easier task. Now, with the trend to provide sustainable solutions for everything the canals have become a viable option again and provide additional benefits as well; not just the environment profits, also the old canals and bridges are saved and shops can be supplied again in the middle of the day.



To think that in most (Dutch) cities these canals have been filled up and replaced by wide roads, so the trucks could get in. Perhaps with the current wind of change some cities will consider digging out these canals again, running their supply by such boats and gain a tourist attraction in the process.


Fuel Cell Boat (English)

Afdeling Bis Utrecht (Dutch)

Schuttevaer (Dutch)