Volkswagen to Charter Two LNG-Powered Car Carriers

Image credit: Volkswagen Group
Image credit: Volkswagen Group

German automaker Volkswagen is looking to reduce its environmental footprint by chartering two LNG-powered Pure Car and Truck Carriers to transport its vehicles between Europe and North America.

The two planned vessels will be operated by Siem Car Carriers and used exclusively by Volkswagen Group upon delivery in 2019.

The company says it will be among one of the first car manufactures to use ships powered by clean-burning liquified natural gas. It also said it intends to transfer vehicle and material transport in Europe increasingly from trucks to lower-emission means of transport such as ships in the future.

“The Volkswagen Group is shouldering its responsibility for the environment,” said Wolfram Thomas, Head of Group Production. “This not only applies to our cars but also to our production and logistics. We are pooling all our efforts to improve environmental compatibility in Logistics under the term Green Logistics. By commissioning the two LNG-powered freighters for the route between Europe and North America, Volkswagen Group Logistics is forging ahead with environmentally compatible, resource-efficient transport.“

The two newbuild vessels will measure about 200 meters in length and have a width of about 36 meters, with capacity for about 4,500 vehicles. The car carriers will come with a 3,000 m³ LNG fuel tank installed below deck, offering a comparable capacity to conventional transatlantic freighters, according to Volkswagen. Both ships will have a 12,600 kW dual-fuel engine with direct injection developed by MAN Diesel & Turbo and exhaust gas treatment to further reduce emissions.

The vessels are to replace two of the nine conventional Pure Car and Truck Carriers in Siem Car Carriers’ fleet.

The Volkswagen Group joined the Clean Shipping Network at the beginning of 2014 and was the first German automaker to use this index for assessing the environmental impact of its marine transport. Since the end of 2015 the automaker has been shipping parts from Turkey to its assembly plant in Portugal by sea, cutting annual CO2 emissions by 240 tons compared to over-the-road haulage, according to Volkswagen. The use of LNG-powered roll on/roll off car carriers on other routes is currently being considered, the company said.

“Compared with other means of transport, marine shipping is one of the most efficient possibilities,” said Thomas Zernechel, Head of Group Logistics. “Volkswagen Group Logistics already transports half of the vehicles produced by sea. We are continuously working on the optimization of our marine transport systems. The chartered vessels on which a decision has already been taken are the first milestone. The possibility of changing other vehicle transport vessels chartered by Volkswagen over to LNG operation will depend on the availability of the necessary infrastructure. Apart from LNG as an alternative fuel, we are also working on other projects which will continuously make our logistics processes more environmentally compatible.”

In case you were wondering the world’s first LNG-powered Pure Car and Truck Carrier, the Auto Eco, was delivered just last week to owner United European Car Carriers, which is equally owned by Janan’s NYK Line and the Swedish shipping company Wallenius Lines.

Vessel Specifications: 

Operator: Siem Car Carriers AS
Length: about 200 meters
Width: about 36 meters
Capacity: about 4,500 vehicles (7,000 CEU)
Number of decks: 12
Engine: LNG-powered dual-fuel marine engine from MAN Diesel & Turbo
Power output: 12,600 kW
LNG tank: 3,000 CBM
Average speed: 16.5 knots in eco mode, max. 19 knots