WALLENIUS Wilhelmsen has declared its options to build a further four next generation Shaper Class PCTCs in China.

The Oslo based shipping line now holds firm contracts for a total of twelve Shaper Class vessels, after revealing on 24 May it had declared options for four additional vessels to be built.

The Shaper Class is notable for its efficient design and significant size, WW says, each having a 9300 CEU capacity, ranking the vessels among the largest of their kind in the world.

Deliveries for the latest four declared vessels will take place between late 2027 and early 2028, while the first eight will begin delivery starting mid-2026.

The Shaper Class is part of WW’s intention to provide net-zero emission free services by 2027, with each vessel expected to be methanol capable and ammonia ready.

Wallenius COO Xavier Leroi said: “We are already partnering with our customers on reducing emissions through biofuel. With the new vessels, we can accelerate our operations towards net-zero.”

Lasse Kristoffersen, WW CEO and president, emphasised the company’s focus on transformation over the coming years: “As a company, we are determined to shape this industry and lead the way to capitalize effectively on changing circumstances, as we grow with customers and partners sharing our journey” he said.

Economically, the declared option to build the additional vessels comes as seaborne car trade reports strong increases in volumes and earnings.

2023 was a record year for seaborne car trade, underpinned by strong car export market growth seen in China, Japan, and South Korea, with Chinese exports in particular soaring each year post-pandemic, totaling almost 5 million units for 2023, when compared with less than 1 million units in 2020.

The United States remains the largest importer of vehicles, while the European market has also seen robust import growth, with vehicle imports in 2023 up 39% from the year prior.

Strong investment in green shipping, including alternative fuel capable vessels, is forecast to continue, with spending related to the European Union’s Emissions Trading System expected to total US$300 million in 2024 for the car carrier sector specifically, and increases up to US$750 million estimated for the year 2026.

The twelve Shaper Class vessels will be built at China Merchants Jingling Shipyard in Nanjing.

WW holds options for the construction of a further four vessels that have not been declared at this point.