For the first time, German automaker Volkswagen Group is transporting 4,800 vehicles from Europe to North and Central America on a car freighter powered by LNG.

The vehicles left Emden, Germany yesterday for Veracruz in the Gulf of Mexico aboard the Siem Confucius, the first of two LNG-powered ships to replace Volkswagan’s conventional heavy oil-powered vessels.

According to Volkswagen, the LNG drive reduces carbon dioxide emissions by up to 25%, nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 30%, soot particles by up to 60% and sulphur oxide emissions by up to 100%.

“We are proud to put the world’s first LNG vehicle transporter of this size into service. This is an important part of our decarbonisation strategy,” emphasised Thomas Zernechel, Head of Volkswagen Group Logistics.

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Source: Volkswagen Group

By 2025, in accordance with the environmental mission statement “goTOzero”, the company aims to reduce its total net CO2 emissions by 30% and be get CO2-neutral in 2050. All transports – by water, road and rail – must be climate-friendly to achieve this.

“We have to take action now, because ships like the LNG freighter Siem Confucius and soon its sister ship Siem Aristotle will be in service for many years,” said Zernechel.

200 metres long and 38 metres wide, Siem Confucius has 13 car decks and a capacity of 7,500 car equivalent units, which corresponds to around 4,800 vehicles in the Volkswagen Group model mix from passenger cars to light commercial vehicles.

The ships are powered by 12,600kW dual-fuel marine engines with direct injection and exhaust gas after treatment from MAN Energy Solutions. In eco-speed mode they travel at a speed of 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h).

The two tanks in each ship, each holding 1,800 cubic metres, are sufficient to cover the entire distance with the fuel stowed in Europe. In addition to liquid, deep-frozen natural gas, the car carriers could also be operated with biogas or E-gas from regenerative sources.