The Volkswagen Group said it will use two vessels powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) on routes between Europe and North America from 2019, in a move that aims to improve the environmental balance of its marine transport fleet.
“The Volkswagen Group is shouldering its responsibility for the environment. This not only applies to our cars but also to our production and logistics,” said Wolfram Thomas, Head of Group Production, who said the group is steering toward “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,” Thomas said.
The two planned charter vessels from Siem Car Carriers AS are to be used exclusively for the Volkswagen Group in a round trip scheme across the North Atlantic serving the markets of Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Europe, replacing two of the nine conventional freighters powered by heavy fuel oil.
At about 200 meters long and 36 meters wide, the new 12-deck car carrier vessels have a capacity of about 4,500 vehicles and are equipped with a 3,000-cubic-meter LNG tank installed below deck. Both ships will feature a 12,600 kW engine developed by MAN Diesel & Turbo. They will sail at an average speed of 16.5 knots in eco mode, with a top speed of 19 knots.
Kenneth Ross CEO of Siem Car Carriers AS, said, “We are pleased to have taken on board a partner in Volkswagen Group Logistics with whom we can pursue this innovative, future-oriented approach to roll-on/roll-of transport for the first time. The use of LNG-powered car carriers not only makes marine transport of this type more environmentally compatible but will also make the entire operation significantly more efficient in the long term.”
According to Volkswagen, the use of the two LNG-powered freighters for vehicle logistics across the North Atlantic will reduce emissions per ship and year by up to 25 percent in the case of CO2, up to 30 percent in the case of NOx, and up to 60 percent in the case of particulate matters (PM), while SOx emissions will be cut by as much as 100 percent. Emissions will be further reduced by the use of a dual-fuel marine engine with direct injection and exhaust gas treatment.
“Compared with other means of transport, marine shipping is one of the most efficient possibilities. Volkswagen Group Logistics already transports half of the vehicles produced by sea,” said Thomas Zernechel, Head of Group Logistics. “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 group said the use of LNG-powered roll on/roll off car carriers on other routes is currently being considered, and Volkswagen intends to transfer vehicle and material transport in Europe increasingly from trucks to lower-emission means of transport such as ships.
“The possibility of changing other vehicle transport vessels chartered by Volkswagen over to LNG operation will depend on the availability of the necessary infrastructure,” Zernechel said. “Apart from LNG as an alternative fuel, we are also working on other projects which will continuously make our logistics processes more environmentally compatible.”
Volkswagen is also working on alternative, environmentally compatible transport possibilities, not only for vehicle logistics, but also for material logistics. Since the end of 2015, material from Turkey for the Autoeuropa plant in Portugal has been shipped from Izmir to Lisbon by sea in a transfer from road haulage to marine transport that cuts annual CO2 emissions by 240 tons and reduces cost for the company.
“By bundling consignments in an intelligent way, we can use means of transport such as ships and railways, which conserve resources, instead of trucks and further improve the environmental compatibility of our vehicle and material logistics,” Zernechel said.