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Volkswagen Group Logistics has announced it will be using certified fuel from vegetable residues for certain new car shipment routes.

The fuel is produced from materials such as used oil from restaurants and the food industry, the German car maker said.

Volkswagen confirmed that the first vessel - the Depth Ro-Ro carrier Patara - was bunkered for the first time with the oil in mid-November 2020 and a second ship is due to follow at the beginning of 2021.

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

For European shipments, Volkswagen routinely charters two vessels which carry up to 3,500 vehicles on a route from Emden via Dublin, Santander and Setubal, and then back to Emden about 50 times per year. During their journeys, the vessels carry about 250,000 Audi, SEAT and Skoda branded passenger cars and commercial vehicles every year.

The two, 180-metre-long ships are each powered by a MAN marine diesel engine with more than 19,000 PS (14,220 kW). In future, the two ships will be bunkered at sea off the coast of Vlissingen with alternative fuel supplied by the Dutch company GoodFuels.

‘We are extremely proud that a global brand like Volkswagen Group Logistics has sustainable shipping at the forefront of its operations, and is supporting our mission as an impact company to accelerate the energy transition in heavy transport,’ said Isabel Welten, Chief Commercial Officer at GoodFuels.

By bunkering the vessel with used oil, Volkswagen claims the CO2 emissions of the two conventional vessels along their route will be reduced by more than 85% – from over 60,000 to about 9,000 tonnes per year. In addition, sulphur oxide emissions will be ‘almost completely’ avoided.

According to Volkswagen, the decision to fuel its vessels with used cooking oil is part of a strategy to make group logistics ‘even greener’.

Another element of its greening strategy involves the use of marine LNG to power car freighters. As previously reported, in 2016, the company’s logistics division announced it was to use two LNG-fuelled freighters chartered from Siem Car Carriers for vehicle shipment between Europe and North America.

The charter officially commenced in June this year when the LNG-fuelled Siem Confucius, carrying 4,800 new vehicles, departed the Port of Emden on a three-week maiden voyage to Mexico.

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