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The news of a hybrid-powered car carrier will be music to the ears of many of our readers who commented about the lack of regulation of emissions from ocean-faring vessels in our latest editorial.

Beginning this month, Toyota Prius vehicles and other hybrids from the Japanese manufacturer will be transported across the Pacific Ocean in a diesel-hybrid car carrier.

The Auriga Leader has been a pioneer in environmentally friendly shipping since 2009.

At the time, it was fitted with 328 solar cells in an attempt to reduce its dependence on oil. It saved an average of 13 tonnes of fuel and 40 tonnes of CO2 per year, although that equated to just one percent of the ship’s electric equipment and 0.05 percent of its propulsion power.

According to environmental website Gas 2.0, the average car carrying ship uses 120 gallons of fuel per mile (28,225 litres/100km), which makes the emissions of the cars onboard seem largely insignificant.

The Auriga Leader has now been fitted with a number of massive nickel-hydrogen batteries. Its generator has also been retrofitted to run on low-sulphur diesel.

So far, no predictions of fuel or emissions savings have been released, although the hybrid system is expected to lead to significant reductions in consumption and emissions compared with the solar panels.

Like the solar panel experiment, the hybrid system will be tested over the coming years. If the system is effective, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and NYK line plan to commercialise the technology and implement it in more ocean-liners.

  • Golfschwein

    Tim, you could contact Lexus’s Australian boss who said that diesel is a dead technology, and ask him for comment!

    • Able

      Oh PLEASE DO!!! That man needs to be put in place!

  • Alexander

    This combined with the manufacturing facility that Toyota builds the Prius in that’s solar powered, has natural lighting, has its emissions offset with tree planting and painted in a C02 absorbing paint, the bioplastic interior of the Prius makes the whole ‘Prius isn’t that great for the environment because of its manufacturing process’ argument a bit invalid…

    • Acfsambo

      Have you looked at how damaging the mining of the batteries for the Prius (and other electric cars) are? Take away the hybrids system and yes the Prius is, in relative terms, less of an impact to the environment. The problem with the batteries, is that when mining the nickel and the lithium that is used in the batteries, it leaves a lot of damaging waste and uses a lot of energy. The metals then get flown to china to be processed into batteries then shipped to Japan. This isn’t an attack on the Prius alone with all cars using the Nickel Hydride or Lithium Ion batteries being attacked.

      If toyota puts the energy saving technology into all of its manufacturing (the bioplastic and solar technology, ect.) it would go a long way to helping their manufacturing emissions.

      On the ship, if all the ships were made 1% more efficient, just 1%, that’s about 280L/100km less for this vessel, and considering there are larger ships using more fuel, the savings in oil could be enormous

      • Alexander

        Ultimately you’re right, although i think (can’t remember where exactly i read it) that Toyota cleaned up their act with battery production for the Generation 3 Prius batteries although they’re now 96% recyclable. I think cleanly building batteries is something that really needs to be focussed on by manufacturers of all electronics, considering how widely they’re used these days. My original comment was more in relation to those who claim a Diesel buzzbox is better for the environment than a Prius…

        • Acfsambo

          It all depends on the size of the car you need. If you only need a small city car, get a small city diesel like a fiesta or something like that. If you need a bigger car get a prius. IF you need a larger car than a prius, get a larger car with a diesel. Though if you do a lot of highway driving, a diesel would be your best bet as hybrids only have an advantage in stop start traffic and through suburbia.

          • Alexander

            I was actually VERY close to getting an Econetic Fiesta, but the vast majority of my driving is urban and city driving with traffic so a Prius was the more efficient option. The Fiesta’s a bit spartan and low on tech, after screwing up my left foot and ankle in my teens, driving a manual in traffic can also get a tad uncomfortable and for the boy racer within me, the Prius is also almost 2 seconds faster to 100km. Although if i were driving lost highway distances a Fiesta would have been my choice…

  • Alexander

    ** And the bioplastic interior of the Prius,

  • XA-Mont


  • Locky

    Tim & John,

    I think your opening sentence was aimed directly at me…

    At least Toyota recognise the problem and I hope they make a big song and dance about it to highlight the issue. Seriously, just this one ship running on Diesel/Electric rather than Bunker fuel will make a huge difference.

    Thank you for this, now we just need John to get on ACA & TT again and let the general public in on the dirty unregulated shipping industry.

    Cheers guys and well done.

  • Locky

    John Cadogan for Prime Minister!!!!

    Tim Beissmann for Transport Minister!!!!

  • Jerrycan

    I wonder how many cars it carries at 28225 litres/100km.
    I cannot see the batteries making much difference as there won’t be any regenerative braking contribution as in cars.

    • Fiz

      They could always go into hydro-electric with some turbines hanging off the sides of the ship taking in joules from all that passing h2o (but hopefully not chewing up dolphins).

      If this is really raising the efficincy of the vessel then great. However, if it costs more than it produces then it is just silly marketing pandering to the anti-oil crowd by raising the cost of products for all.


      • Kieran

        Unless they were somehow incorporated into the hull, the drag produced by the turbine housing would probably negate (or worse) the extra power generated.

    • Mark

      I’m under the impression that modern ships use electric engines with diesel generators, so i assume that the solar cells would simply mean the generators would have to do less work

    • Karl

      Jerrycan, according to wiki, the Auriga Leader carries 6200 vehicles.
      If we assume it’s full (maximum efficiency per vehicle) 28,225L divided by 6200 cars = 4.55L/100k per car. Lets say approximately 6000km Japan to Aus = 273 litres of diesel per unit.
      Or Germany to aus (about 15000 km) = 682.5 litres of diesel per car.

  • Me


  • bold

    First of all, ships are relatively “green” in terms of fuel consumption considering their capacity and range.

    There is nothing really “green” at the moment in producing cars, good start but far from what you can call “green production”. Also solar power is not the answer for industrial production, the energy you can get from sun in a certain area is just limited to less intensive power consumption, not enough for manufacturing yet.

    • Locky

      sorry bold but you are way off the mark thinking ships a “relatively green”, suggest you take a look at this article.


      I think your getting confused with the cost to run them compared with the cargo they can carry, there is absolutely nothing green about them….period.

      • Antman

        This ship uses 28,225l/100km and can carry 6400 cars which works out to 4.4l/100km. About the same as driving these cars the same distance I guess…

        • Locky

          sounds good @ 4.1L/100km, if they used a refined diesel fuel. However, most ships burn a thick crude sludge called ‘Bunker’ fuel and it is only one level up from bitumen so it is extremely high litre for litre in (bad, very bad particulates) pollutants compared against diesel.

          Here is a little section from Wikipedia

          Bunker fuel

          Small molecules like those in propane gas, naphtha, gasoline for cars, and jet fuel have relatively low boiling points, and they are removed at the start of the fractional distillation process. Heavier petroleum products like diesel and lubricating oil are much less volatile and distill out more slowly, while bunker oil is literally the bottom of the barrel; the only things more dense than bunker fuel are carbon black feedstock and bituminous residue which is used for paving roads (asphalt) and sealing roofs.

  • B

    Buy local products to reduce pollution from shipping, keep local jobs, keep local industry/skills/technology. Australia has an abundance of natural resources. We should be independent and sustainable.

    Globalisation sucks and works for big corporates.

    • Locky

      Here, here B as I couldn’t agree more.

  • K

    It all helps I guess but in reality it is as insignificant as running a solar powered toaster in your home and tapping into the grid for the rest of your power.

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