Volkswagen Group continues switch to low-emission logistics with LNG ships

Volkswagen is the first automaker to transport most of its new vehicles overseas using low-emission LNG powered ships.

July 14, 2021. Volkswagen is the first automaker to transport most of its new vehicles overseas using low-emission liquefied natural gas (LNG) ships. After the first two LNG car carriers entered service in 2020, Volkswagen Group Logistics has now ordered four more ships with dual-fuel engines that can be powered with environmentally friendly liquid gas. They should be traveling the world’s oceans by the end of 2023, serving the North American route between Emden in Germany and Veracruz in Mexico. On the return trip, the LNG ships will transport new vehicles destined for Europe. Soon, six of the nine car carriers crossing the North Atlantic for Volkswagen will be powered by LNG.

The further decarbonization of shipping will result in substantial CO2 reductions, with the use of liquid gas enabling Volkswagen to cut the ships’ CO2 emissions by up to 25 percent (tank-to-wake). “In line with the Group’s commitment to e-mobility and climate-neutral production, the LNG fleet used by logistics represents a major contribution to making Volkswagen net carbon neutral by 2050,” says Simon Motter, Head of Volkswagen Group Logistics.

Volkswagen was one of the first car manufacturers to subscribe to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement that aim to limit global warming to significantly less than two degrees by 2050.

Exclusive long-term agreements have been signed with shipowners Wallenius Marine and SFL Corporation for the use of the four new car carriers on the North Atlantic route. The state-of-the-art ships are being built in China. They each have a capacity of around 7,000 CEU (car equivalent units), which corresponds to between 4,400 and 4,700 vehicles from the Volkswagen Group’s model mix. The ships will be powered by 13,300 kW dual-fuel engines from MAN Energy Solutions and, in eco-speed mode, will be able to travel at speeds of 15 to 16 knots (28 to 30 km/h).

In contrast to other LNG-powered marine engines, the two-stroke engines from MAN Energy Solutions use a high-pressure technology that results in virtually no methane slip, making the ships chartered by Group Logistics especially climate-friendly.

The use of LNG also cuts the emissions of nitrogen oxides by up to 30 percent, soot particles by up to 60 percent and sulfur oxides by as much as up to 100 percent.

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