iYacht interviewed by CAT - Marine Power Systems

Technology, sustainability and product marketability impact today’s yachting industry.
Designers and shipbuilders are focused on addressing challenges surrounding these three core concerns – and balancing them with buyers’ requirements and budget.

Interviewed by CAT, Udo A.Hafner, founder of iYacht design & engineering, a German-based yacht designer specializing in naval architecture and exterior design services, shared the key trends and considerations for modern yacht builds.




Many shipbuilders are taking bold, innovative approaches to yacht design and operation. “Some companies are investing in new technologies such as hydrogen propulsion and wind-assisted power systems,” Hafner commented.


While some companies are focused on demonstrating a commitment to sustainable yachting, others are centered on overall value as smaller, outboard-powered boats have captured buyers’ interest with their combination of design, usability and cost. Regardless of the price point, delivering compelling designs with new approaches is an important trend.


Demand for satellite connectivity is also on the rise. Providing yacht owners with technology that allows streaming, video calls, online gaming, remote working and more is a trend that will impact the industry for years to come.

Any digitalization that improves the comfort of yacht owners, guests and crew is in demand.



The 50m M/Y Thanuja, recently refitted, features CAT generators.



Hybrid propulsion is a key trend for today’s yachts. Zero-emission shipbuilding goals continue to drive innovation, with larger shipyards leading the way due to yard size and project scale.

Currently, it’s challenging for smaller shipbuilders to enter this space.

As time passes, however, we expect to see shipyards of all sizes put sustainability at the forefront as it becomes more cost-effective to do so.



Fuel Efficiency



The increasing interest in fuel efficiency is leading shipbuilders to focus their attention on optimizing propulsion systems. Reducing the hotel loads of a yacht is also a consideration, as increased luxury amenities typically result in higher energy demands. Decreasing hotel loads is much easier than inventing a new hull concept.


When it comes to building a yacht, Hafner noted four important considerations:


  • Operating Costs
    Unlike previous generations of yacht owners, the modern buyer is most concerned with vessel operating costs. It is recommended to gather as much information as possible about a yacht build’s operational expenses to understand the financial impact of the resulting vessel.

  • Engine
    Availability, operational efficiency, smart integration with ship systems, service support and emissions control are important factors when choosing an engine. “The Cat® C32B Marine Propulsion Engine is widely used by iYacht in our offerings as it is highly efficient and meets IMO III (SCR) emissions standards,” Hafner added.

  • System Setup
    Be aware that more features results in more complexity and operating costs. Know which elements must be included, and which are unimportant.

  • Team
    Selecting the right shipyard and yacht project manager makes a difference. Trust is a major factor in every successful shipbuilder relationship. Work with a shipyard with a reputation for reliability and cost-effectiveness and choose a yacht project manager that demonstrates a detailed understanding of planning and control.

As shipbuilders and designers compete for market advantage, they add more features for comfort and convenience,” said Hafner. “This can be overlooked, causing increased system complexity and vulnerability. A team that can strike a balance between luxury and operating costs can meet the demands of the modern yacht buyer.”