COSCO’s 7,500 CEU LNG dual-fuel car carrier begins maiden voyage

COSCO Shipping’s 7,500 CEU LNG dual-fuel car carrier Liao He Kou has started its maiden voyage to Europe.

Courtesy of COSCO Shipping

At the dock, brand-new commercial vehicles from brands such as BAIC, Liuzhou Motor, BYD and CHERY were loaded onto the new RoRo vessel for the journey.

Currently, Liao He Kou and its sister ship Min Jiang Kou are said to be the “world’s largest” RoRo vessels, offering space for 7,500 vehicles on 13 decks, including four liftable ones. Min Jiang Kou is expected to soon set sail for the Gulf.

The new vessels were designed by the Shanghai Ship Design Institute and built by Fujian Shipbuilding Industry Group.

COSCO said that thanks to the LNG dual-fuel power and multiple advanced green environmental protection technologies, the vessels are designed to meet TIER III emission standards of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and will “significantly” save energy and reduce emissions during operation.

“Compared with traditional fuel oil RoRo vessels, it can save about 20% of energy consumption, reduce about 27% of carbon emissions, 30% of nitrogen oxide emissions, 99% of sulfide emissions and more than 90% of PM particulate matter emissions,” the company claimed, adding:

“Taking a typical China-Europe round-trip voyage as an example, using LNG as an alternative fuel can reduce CO₂ emissions by more than 2,100 tons per voyage, which is equivalent to the amount of CO₂ absorbed by 10,000 adult trees in 20 years.”

COSCO also pointed out that the new vessels can monitor the status and precise positioning of vehicles in real-time throughout the entire transportation process, which enables the company to provide a visualized experience of the entire chain of the automobile logistics supply chain for customers, including monitoring the temperature and vehicle condition in the cabin, provide high-temperature warnings and ultra-high temperature alarms.

Looking ahead, COSCO Shipping and its joint venture Guangzhou Yuanhai Automobile Shipping have ordered 24 LNG dual-fuel car carriers, each with capacities ranging from 7000 to 8600 vehicles. This expansion is expected to lead to a fleet of approximately 30 specialized car carriers by 2026.

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To remind, at the beginning of 2024, China-based BYD took delivery of its first car carrier which is dual-fueled, marking the beginning of the era of China’s own transport of domestically built cars.

Carrying 5,449 new vehicles on board, the car carrier embarked on its maiden voyage to Europe, heading to the ports of Vlissingen in the Netherlands and Bremerhaven in Germany.

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In 2023, China surpassed Japan and became the world’s largest automobile exporter. The increase in vehicle trade and the increasing share of pure electric/hybrid vehicles is expected to further drive the demand for car carriers.