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VOLKSWAGEN Group Logistics has ordered four dual-fuel vessels that can run on LNG to carry its vehicles to overseas markets.

These four will join two similar car carriers that entered service in 2020.

The new vessels are expected to 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 company said the further decarbonisation of shipping will result in substantial carbon dioxide reductions, with the use of liquid gas enabling Volkswagen to cut the ships’ carbon dioxide emissions by up to 25% (tank-to-wake).

Volkswagen Group Logistics head Simon Motter said, “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”.

Simon Motter said with the four new LNG ships, group logistics is continuing its commitment to climate protection and pursuing the strategy of low-emission sea transport.

“The new ships will also permit the use of non-fossil fuels in the future, thus reducing carbon dioxide emissions even further. Our aim is to make all our transport operations – by water, road and rail – environmentally friendly, clearly demonstrating the Volkswagen Group’s pioneering role in climate-friendly logistics,” Mr Motter said.

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 ships each have a capacity of around 7000 car-equivalent units, which corresponds to between 4400 and 4700 vehicles from the Volkswagen Group’s model mix.

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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 two LNG ships that came into service in 2020 are also equipped with this climate-friendly technology, which was a key factor in choosing these ships.

It will also be possible to retrofit two of the new ships with battery cells to achieve further reductions in fuel consumption. All four LNG ships will have shore power connections which means they can eliminate all local emissions in ports providing this facility.

The Volkswagen Group said it is committed to e-mobility as well as to the sustainable production and use of new electric vehicles.

In Germany, the group has already switched all rail transport with Deutsche Bahn to green electricity and is extending this to transport throughout Europe. On coastal routes, the group already operates two car carriers with biofuel produced from plant-based residues such as waste oil from the food industry. This has resulted in an 85% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions (well-to-wake), the company said.

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