Antonin Groult, top-level engineer, joined Iguana Yachts as the Technology Director. New innovations at Iguana Research Unit are coming up. Here is an interview of Antonin about his vision for Iguana Yachts.
1. Tell us about your engineering background?
I am a versatile engineer. I graduated from “Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Métiers” (in the last century!). I have spent most of my career in the automotive industry. At PSA I worked in R&D for chassis, ground links and suspension systems. Mass production engineering is fascinating and requires diabolical rigor: with volume, all the probable events end up happening. You have to be cautious with your designs!
I then joined the innovation department of PSA. I worked on hybrid powertrains and managed the ground links design office. It required more creativity to be close to customer needs so as to create the right offer in terms of performance, price, level of reliability.
Moving on from futuristic vehicle projects, I wanted to be closer to real life constraints. I discovered a completely different industry and joined civil engineering as head of the Systems Department at Freyssinet, Vinci Group. Freyssinet supplies, integrates and implements components for civil engineering works, stay cables, prestressing cables, seismic equipment, etc… The change has been considerable! Civil engineering is undergoing profound changes, the subjects of innovation are really exciting, but at the end of 2019, I crossed paths with Iguana Yachts.
2. What do you like so far at Iguana Yachts?
First of all, it’s a fantastic product. An amphibious vehicle reminded me of a hybrid vehicle that’s both practical and highly innovative. But an Iguana is first of all a fantastic boat, beautiful, and truly marine. You have to see it for real, to feel its balance at sea and its power on land, to take on its full dimension and the coherence of the concept.
“It’s an engineer’s dream. From high level mechanics, structure, composite, hydraulics, electricity, electronics, automation and even programming, we have everything in our hands!”
And then it’s an engineer’s dream… I believe that the product sweeps almost the entire field of science and technology. From high level mechanics, structure, composite, hydraulics, electricity, electronics, automation and even programming, we have everything in our hands! Working on the same day on a hydraulic transmission, then on a high-voltage battery, before installing one of the world’s first diesel outboards is an ordinary day at Iguana! The challenge is big but it’s really exciting.
Finally, working at Iguana is also joining a small, formidable, passionate and dynamic team, sharing successes and supporting each other in hard times. For me, who is rather familiar with large industrial groups, the human dimension of the adventure is a great discovery.
3. What are future technological opportunities for Iguana Yachts?
It’s a very inspiring product, we have new ideas every day! The hardest part is choosing your fights.
In the short term, I’m very excited about our new line-up; I have a crush on the Iguana Coupé, for its beautiful line and the simple and clever modularity of its deck layout. But the challenge that excites me the most is the full electric boat. It’s a challenge in every sense of the word, a real balance to find between autonomy, on-board power and energy efficiency. A kilowatt-hour battery weighs 8 to 10kg, so sobriety is the key. I think we’ve found a way forward: the broad outlines are in place, we know how to go about it, and we can’t wait to get going.
Finally, another aspect of the product I would like to develop in the coming months is Software. The leverage effect seems huge. Technological bricks are available to further enhance the excitement of being at the controls of such a machine, and to offer functionalities to make it even more practical and accessible.
“It’s a very inspiring product, we have new ideas every day! The challenge that excites me the most is the full electric boat“