VW’s Greener Shipping

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Ocean going car transporters are huge, dirty and far from yar! Pollution and emissions from cargo shipping is a global issue but for most of us ‘out of sight is out of mind’ and the subject seldom appears on our radar. Massive ships are very cost effective but they move by burning the dregs of crude diesel fuel and many do not feature scrubbing systems that you get on the latest car ferries. Volkswagen has exclusively chartered the SIEM Confucius ship that is powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).

For the first time, vehicles from Europe will be transported from Europe to North and Central America on a car freighter powered by LNG. On Tuesday evening the SIEM Confucius with more than 4,800 vehicles bound for North America left Emden for Veracruz in the Gulf of Mexico. The LNG drive reduces carbon dioxide emissions by up to 25 percent, nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 30 percent, soot particles by up to 60 percent and sulphur oxide emissions by up to 100 percent.

“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,” emphasises Thomas Zernechel, Head of Volkswagen Group Logistics. By 2025, in accordance with the environmental mission statement “goTOzero”, the company aims to reduce its total net CO2 emissions by 30 percent 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,” says Zernechel.

Like her sister ship (enters service later this year), the technologically ultramodern SIEM Confucious is 200 metres long and 38 metres wide, has 13 car decks and a capacity of 7,500 CEU (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. Volkswagen Group Logistics organises, coordinates and is responsible for around 7,700 ship departures worldwide every year. Several hundred liners and eleven car freighter charter ships, two of which are now being replaced by the LNG units, sail the world’s oceans for the Group every day. They ship 2.8 million new cars a year.

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Michael Sheridan

Michael is Motorhub's Editor. Well known from TV and radio, Michael has been writing, presenting and judging cars since the mid 90's. He is a renowned Producer/Director and documentary film maker. Dozens of credits include: The Whole Way Round (Gay Byrne), The Shamrock Run (Alan Shortt), The Viking Run (Clodagh McKenna) and The Irish 66ers (David Mitchell) and The Climb for Kids (Colin Farrell). Print credits include: the RTE Guide (motoring editor 1999-2003), many national daily papers and Sundays including The Irish Times (freelance) plus other magazines. National radio credits include multiple at RTE Gerry Ryan show, the Mooney Show, The Dave Fanning Show, Drivetime etc. TV credits as a motoring expert include RTE's flagship current affairs show Primetime and TV3's Ireland AM. Michael also presented RTE's car show Drive! in the late 90s and directed some items in MPH2 on TG4. Michael contributes weekly on motoring issues to The Last Word show with Matt Cooper on Today FM. Michael has represented Ireland's motoring journalists in Motorsport at the International Mazda MX-5 endurance race series in Italy and the Arctic Ice Race. He has been a Car of the Year Judge for 20 years, more recently a judge for Van of the Year. Michael is a former Chairperson of the Association of Professional Motoring Press (APMP).

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