The direct reason behind the development of Hydrolift SX-22 is the financial crisis. At first, the market signalled the need for a larger boat but suddenly it became imperative for the company to develop a variant that cost half the price of the cheapest model it had.
The challenge was that the boat still had to be full of technical innovations and be of a high design quality.
The boat is a good example of turning something negative into something positive by using design. This boat is full of innovations. Among other things, the jury considers the newly developed and integrated D-fender system to be a credible alternative to traditional fender/rib solutions.
The electrically adjustable windscreen is also an innovation. However, it is the boat’s multiple use value that is most exciting and innovative. Using a modular design solution and simple measures, the same boat can be used for fishing, water skiing, diving, family trips, sunbathing, sports, freight and even as a rescue or police boat. With the SX-22, Hydrolift has created a quality boat with a strong sense of style.
Hydrolift is famous for producing relatively exclusive speedboats for people with a special interest in boats. Each boat that comes out of the factory in Fredrikstad, Norway, has been made to order in close cooperation with the customer. Nothing is produced for stock. For Hydrolift, this means flexibility in the face of market fluctuations when developing new models, while never compromising on the strict design and quality requirements that permeate the company.
Financial crisis changed the course
When the financial crisis hit Hydrolift amidships in the autumn of 2008, it came out of the blue. Earlier that year, the company had decided to develop the largest and most expensive Hydrolift boat ever in line with market signals. Suddenly it was necessary to completely transform boat production. Hydrolift decided to create a boat platform that would cost half of the least expensive boat it had. Using design, quality and innovative thinking, the company would create a boat at a price customers could afford. And to keep all the company’s employees in a job, the boat had to be produced in Fredrikstad.
Few companies have as close a relationship with their customers as Bård Eker & Co has. The company likes to talk to its customers face-to-face or via the internet, Facebook or e-mail. Almost like a club, the company likes to have the first boats of a new model in physical proximity to customers it knows well – pilot customers who really test the boats for all they are worth, and who give proper feedback. Such a close cooperation with potential buyers makes it possible for Hydrolift to quickly adapt to the market, as was the case when it turned on a dime and developed the SX-22.
By developing the SX-22, Hydrolift moved away from pure speedboats to a more flexible, user-friendly type of boat, without removing any of the driving features. The boat had to be sturdy, safe and seaworthy even in rough seas. An archipelago boat was suitable for both ego trips and family outings. The basic concept is that you can use modules to construct a range of different boat models. The hull and deck are the basic modules and on this basis the boat can be transformed into different types of boats; an open leisure boat, diving and water sports boat, family boat, fishing boat or a sunbathing boat. It can even be adapted for the professional market, for example for police or rescue services.
Testing and choice of direction
Its modular structure not only means that SX-22 appeals to a wider target group, but such versatility also creates a higher resale value. The modular concept and economic realities influenced the direction and choices linked to the SX-22. For example, it was the first time Hydrolift produced a boat designed for an outboard motor. The design is so flexible that an outboard motor from any supplier can be fitted. Modular sitting and lying solutions in the bow and stern also provide a wide range of options. Further proof of innovative user-friendliness is the electric windshield, which can be adapted to the height of the person steering the boat, and to whether they are sitting or standing.
The hull design was further developed to form part of the whole boat, not just the hull. One of the greatest innovations of the SX-22 is an extension to the form of the hull. D-fenders are designed as a more aesthetic alternative to rib solutions with inflatable pontoons and consist of a fixed, functional protective fender that also helps to give the SX-22 a special look. The steering console is small and made of rotational moulded plastic. Thanks to the D-fender and convenient console features, the SX-22 can be completed so fast it has even been marketed under the motto Gone in sixty seconds. This is an appealing selling point for busy people.
Bård Eker is happy that he has managed to keep his staff. He likes to get production staff involved in design, and vice versa. The more everyone involved knows about the whole process, the better. It takes almost three weeks to build a 22 footer, but logistics are a challenge when you are not building for stock. The parts flow now takes 4-6 times longer than previously; the slowness of the system means that customers have to consider purchasing a new boat much earlier than they otherwise would have done. However, the development process continues.
The first batch sold out quickly and feedback has been extremely positive. Not least, the D-fender solution has received a lot of praise. The aesthetics of the boat are reflected in these comments and there is every indication that this cost-effective Hydrolift model also lives up to the company’s slogan Fly without wings.
Company: Hydrolift AS
Project group company: Christoffer Haarbye, Hydrolift AS. - Bård Eker, Hydrolift og Eker Design AS.
Design: Eker Design AS
Project group design company: Efraim Tangen, Eker Design AS. - Morten Akre, Eker Design AS. - Henrik Sandmark, Eker Design AS. - Victor Rosenvinge, Eker Design AS. - Bård Eker, Hydrolift og Eker Design AS.
Award / year: Honours Award for Design Excellence - 2011