HomeThe MarketVolkswagen using vegetable oil to power car-transporting ships

Volkswagen using vegetable oil to power car-transporting ships

First ship has launched, another due early in 2021


Volkswagen is not only rolling out electric-powered vehicles for the road but has launched its first ocean-going car-shipping freighter propelled by “fuel from waste,” the company announced.

Volkswagen says the ship, powered by a new 19,334-horsepower engine from its MAN division, will reduce CO2 emissions by 85 percent compared with the typical diesel-powered freighter. The new MAN engine runs on fuel produced from vegetable residues from the food industry and used oil from restaurants, according to Volkswagen Group Logistics.

A second such freighter is scheduled to launch early in 2021. Each of the ships can carry 3,500 vehicles.

“We are the first automaker to make widespread use of this fuel,” said Thomas Zernechel, head of VW Group Logistics. “This way, we reuse waste oil in an environmentally compatible way. With 85 percent lower CO2 emissions than with conventional fossil fuels, the contribution to climate protection is enormous.”

The first such ships will travel on a route that includes ports in Ireland, Spain and Portugal, with around four roundtrips each month, delivering new Audi, Seat, Skoda and VW vehicles.

A car freighter during the refuelling process

The ships are refueled off the Netherlands’ coast with the alternative fuel from GoodFuels, a Dutch company. VW Logistics said not only are CO2 emissions reduced but sulfur-oxide emissions “will be almost completely avoided.”

VW said it’s already using liquefied natural gas to power car-carrying freighters traveling between Europe and North American and Latin American ports.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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