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Volkswagen first to use LNG for overseas car freighters from January 2020; MAN dual-fuel engines

Volkswagen Group Logistics is the first to use two car freighters powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) in overseas traffic. The two charter ships of Siem Car Carriers were launched last Friday in Xiamen, China.


We are entering a new field here to reduce emissions. Both ships are the first overseas car freighters in the world to be LNG-powered. In addition to the increasing use of LNG trucks, conversion of our many rail transports to green electricity and the use of biofuel in the short sea segment, the two new LNG ships represent an important building block for our strategic goal of climate-neutral logistics.

—Thomas Zernechel, Head of Group Logistics

Both ships will replace two of the nine conventional heavy oil-powered cargo ships currently used by Group logistics on the Atlantic between Europe and North America. The SIEM CONFUCIUS will be integrated into this service from January 2020 after its transfer from Asia to Europe. The second ship will start operations in spring 2020 in the same area.

The LNG engines reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 25%, nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 30%, particulate matter by up to 60% and sulfur oxide emissions by up to 100% per ship.

The two ships, each 200 meters long and 38 meters wide, have 13 car decks and a capacity of 7,500 RT, which corresponds to approximately 4,700 vehicles of the Volkswagen Group model mix. So far, only a few smaller ships for rolling cargo have been built with LNG propulsion for short-haul traffic; for overseas vehicle shipments, Group logistics is a pioneer for this type of propulsion.

Both vehicle transporters are powered by a 12,600 kW dual-fuel marine engine with direct injection and exhaust gas treatment from MAN Energy Solutions of the Volkswagen Group. In addition to LNG, they can also be operated with environmentally friendly e-gas produced via Power-to-X or biogas. In eco-speed mode, the ships are running 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h). With their two tanks, each holding 1,800 cubic meters, the transporters have similar vehicle capacities and ranges compared to conventional heavy oil-powered ocean freighters.

We believe that the switch to LNG as marine fuel is the most important basis for a maritime energy revolution. In a second step, gas-capable ships can be operated with synthetically produced, climate-neutral fuels and are therefore future-proof. With this project, Volkswagen is pioneering the decarbonisation of global trade flows.

—Uwe Lauber, CEO MAN Energy Solutions

The Volkswagen Group Logistics organises, coordinates and accounts for around 7,700 ship departures worldwide each year. Several hundred liner ships and eleven car freighter charter ships sail the world’s oceans for the Group each day. Every year they ship 2.8 million new cars. In addition, there are 250,000 container loads on ships carrying construction and spare parts.


Thomas Pedersen

Only 30% NOx reduction? Count me unimpressed!

Seeing as conventional marine diesel engines are tuned for maximum efficiency = high NOx, I would have thought they could do better. Not least considering how NOx was their downfall in the US.

It's a quite simple operation to install a catalyst using AddBlue on a ship (much, much simpler than in a car, which is why VW and Mercedes both spent €1-2 billion to do so) and routinely achieve >90% reduction.


You wouldn't use AdBlue on a ship; they're big enough to use anhydrous ammonia.

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