Volvo Penta acquires Norwegian marine battery system supplier

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Volvo Penta has acquired ZEM, a supplier of marine battery systems and complete electric drivelines. “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,” explained Peter Granqvist, CTO at 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.”

Volvo notes that 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,” Granqvist continued. “The ambition of this fantastic acquisition is to take another step forward in our electromobility development, thanks to the specialized marine competence and offer that ZEM has today.”

ZEM was founded in 2009 to design battery and hybrid solutions for the maritime and offshore sectors. Today, the company says it has delivered battery solutions for many different applications, ranging from ferries, offshore supply vessels and high-speed passenger ships to lifeboats and the booming aquaculture sector. Among its solutions are the battery systems for the SMM 2016 Ship of the Year, Vision of the Fjords, as well as the world’s fastest battery-driven catamaran, Rygerelektra, and the first electric free-fall lifeboats, Viking Norsafe.

“Joining forces with Volvo Penta marks the start of an exciting new phase for ZEM,” said Jan-Olaf Willums, founder of ZEM. “Our two companies are aligned on such core values as safety and environmental protection and we both have that Scandinavian pioneering spirit! Volvo Penta’s name and market reach will help propel us into new electromobility markets supporting our growth.”

To advance the Volvo Group’s sustainability agenda, Volvo Penta recently announced that it is redirecting further resources into accelerating its product development. The company says its 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.

“Volvo Penta’s vision is to become a leader in sustainable power solutions, where we are driving transformation on land and at sea toward a more sustainable society,” commented Heléne Mellquist, president of Volvo Penta. “With this acquisition, we are now able to offer driveline solutions for marine customers through ZEM and also contribute to the broader marine electromobility footprint through battery supply. It is a step forward in our transformation and will also allow Volvo Penta to capture new opportunities.”

ZEM will continue to operate under its current brand and under the leadership of Egil Mollestad, its long-term CEO, with the collaboration between Volvo Penta and ZEM expected to develop gradually. Although ZEM will continue to grow its battery and complete driveline business, the long-term plan is for the companies to create complete packages together.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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