Vladimir Zinchenko

Vladimir Zinchenko, the visionary solar-powered electric boat builder

7 mins read

Vladimir Zinchenko has clear ideas about the future of yachting: with Greenline he was the first to start mass production of solar-powered hybrid and electric boats, currently selling 80 boats a year (10% of which are electric) while all the other boatyards are still only at the design or prototype stage for this type of boat. We meet Vladimir Zinchenko aboard the Greenline 40 Electric (pictured below), a wonderful boat that has completely revolutionized the market, offering itself as a true floating home with all the comforts.


Vladimir Zinchenko, how did you come up with the idea of building the first electric yacht?

“I sailed seven times across the Atlantic with my wife, and after covering 250,000 miles, she confided in me that as much as she enjoyed sailing, she missed the comforts we have at home. Thus the idea of Greenline was born: to build boats that are actually houseboats, spacious and with everything you need on board, from the oven to the fridge, from hot water to unlimited electricity. All boat designers say that a boat is not a home, and that you cannot have everything on board: well, with Greenline we have proved the opposite, that you can stay on a boat 24 hours a day all year round just as if it were your own home, and this has been the key to our success.

Obviously, to have all this you need a continuous and above all clean source of energy, which is why we based the entire project on the existence of solar panels that continuously power all on-board equipment. But the advantage also exists for owners who prefer to use the boat only for holidays, and who, when they return on board for the summer, will already have their ice cubes ready, because the solar panels and batteries will have continued to keep the freezer running”.

Did you carry out the project on commission?

Vladimir-Zinchenko“No, we had no commission. We built the first demo boat for the Düsseldorf boat show, so that we could use it as a showcase to find potential buyers. These came immediately: they just had to get on board and fell in love. All the owners of a Greenline yacht tell us that when they sail it has the same feeling as a sailboat, thanks to its calm and pleasant sailing; but at the same time they can enjoy all the comforts of a super motor yacht. In short, with Greenline we have made life on board comfortable and cost-effective”.

What is your average type of customer?

” They are very different from owners of traditional motor yachts, especially in the US, where 99% of the boats we sell are fully electric. Greenline’s customers represent a new generation of boat owners, who only got into boating because of electric power. They are open-minded and environmentally aware, so they don’t even want to hear about diesel engines”.

So why not choose a sailing boat directly instead of a motor boat?

“Because in addition to offering less comfort, sailing boats are also polluting! For example, if you sail in the Mediterranean during summer, weak winds often force sailors to use the motor. By this, of course, I do not mean that sailing is wrong: only, you have to plan your cruising very carefully in advance and you are always dependent on the wind. With a motor boat, on the other hand, we can go where we want when we want: that’s why, as human beings, being in a very critical historical phase for the preservation of the environment, we have a great responsibility to build electric and autonomous boats using solar energy. With an electric yacht we obviously do not have the same speed as with a diesel, but this is becoming less and less important for boat owners. And while sailing we can do anything, read or cook, fish or enjoy the view – all things that are prevented by the commitment involved in steering a sailboat”.

Where did this sense of respect for the environment originate?

“ It originated during my Greenline-Yachtstravels across the Atlantic, which I did six times in order to enjoy the summer season in the Mediterranean and the winter season in the Caribbean. The return voyage is a very hard and frightening experience – your body moves all the time, you can’t sleep well and you can’t take breaks – but at the same time it is a wonderful journey: you live in very close contact with the sea, birds follow the boat, flying fish constantly jump on board and at night, looking at the stars in the Milky Way, you realize how small the world is. We live in a unique environment and we have a duty to preserve it”.

What are Vladimir Zinchenko and Greenline‘s plans for the future?

“Over the last ten years, solar panel and electric battery technology has improved a lot in terms of efficiency and durability, and prices are continuing to fall. This puts us in a position to design increasingly autonomous and comfortable boats, but at the same time without exceeding our natural limits: there is no point in building electric boats that can sail for twenty consecutive hours if we only use them for three or four hours a day. Energy should not be abused but used intelligently: if we do not overdo it with air conditioning, we can sail for many days using only the energy of the sun. Electricity represents the future of boating, although I think that diesel will not disappear completely”.

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