Volkswagen Group Logistics plans to use more ships with dual-fuel engines that can be powered with LNG, a move that is in line with the company's goal to tackle climate change and advance shipping's decarbonization targets.
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Volkswagen was among the first car manufacturers to support the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement that aims to limit global warming to significantly less than two degrees by 2050.
Each year, Volkswagen Group Logistics organizes some 7,700 ship departures worldwide. The company's first two LNG car carriers entered service in 2020.
The four new LNG ships -- with 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 -- will replace diesel ships in the Volkswagen fleet at the end of 2023, it said in a statement on July 14.
They will serve 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, it said.
Exclusive long-term agreements have been signed with two shipowners -- Wallenius Marine and SFL Corporation -- for the use of the four new car carriers on the North Atlantic route, it said.
"With these four additional LNG ships, Group Logistics is continuing its commitment to climate protection and pursuing the strategy of low-emission sea transport that was decided in 2016," Simon Motter, head of Volkswagen Group Logistics, said.
"The new ships will also permit the use of non-fossil fuels in the future, thus reducing CO2 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," he added.
The use of LNG not only reduces CO2 emissions, but also cuts the emission of nitrogen oxides by up to 30%, soot particles by up to 60% and sulfur oxides by as much as up to 100%.
The liquid gas-powered car carriers require no modification to be able to run on alternative non-fossil fuels such as biogas, e-gas from renewable sources and biodiesel.
It will also be possible to retrofit two of the new ships with battery cells to achieve further reduction in fuel consumption, the company said, adding that 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 has committed to e-mobility as well as to the sustainable production and use of new electric vehicles, it said, adding that it follows the principle of focusing first on the avoidance of CO2 emissions and then on reducing emissions as far as possible. Only unavoidable emissions are offset by climate protection measures, it added.