Diesel-Hybrid-Solar Ship to Transport Toyota Hybrids

What is a better way to transport Toyota hybrids from Japan? A hybrid ship, of course – at least that is the hope of those endeavoring to cut costs, pollution and fuel consumption from an otherwise wasteful process.

This month, Toyota will begin shipping its hybrid vehicles via a floating experiment examining the viability of innovative technologies in shipping called the Auriga Leader.

Since 2009, the ship has received a healthy trickle of juice from 328 solar cells. Now it has been fitted with large nickel-hydrogen batteries to offset the massive energy consumption of its diesel engines.

According to Gas 2.0, an average car carrying ship requires 120 gallons of diesel fuel per mile (28,225 litres/100km). Yep, forget about “mpg” familiar to the automotive world. We’re talking 120 gpm – on one level, it makes the offset fuel savings by efficient cars seem rather paltry when you think about it.

The shipping expenses also represent a cost of doing business, and Toyota and the shipping industry as a whole would like to whittle that down any way feasible.

The initial installation of the Auriga Leader’s 328 solar cells did shave slivers from its annual fuel requirement by 13 tons, and they cut annual CO2 emissions by 40 tons. This is about one percent of the energy required by the ship’s electric equipment and .05 percent of its propulsion power.

To date, the ship’s new updated efficiency rating as a result of the massive nickel-hydrogen batteries has not been reported but it is expected to be a fair amount better.

The ship’s generator has also been retrofitted to run on low-sulfur diesel fuel.

The cost-for-benefit analysis for the solar panels have proven them a win, and now the battery-diesel system will also be evaluated.

If the hybrid ship is deemed cost effective, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and the NYK shipping line intend to make the technology commercially available for more ocean-going vessels.

Source: caradvice.com

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  • Charles

    I do not get it. Why do the batteries help? It seems that if the PV cells only produce 1% of the electricity used by the ship, there is not going to be any extra to charge the batteries. If there is no excess electricity to charge the batteries, the batteries just add weight and take up cargo space.

  • Roland Knox

    This is about time. Twelve of the largest cargo ships pollute more than all automobiles on the planet combined. If there is going to be a difference in lowering consumption this is where the industry needs to be. There are thousands of cargo vessels on the ocean, arriving daily at ports across the world spewing untold amounts of pollution into the ocean and into the air. Hundreds if not thousands of times worse than what we drive daily. We as individuals are trying to make a difference, but industry needs to do its share if a healthy planet is our goal.

  • Anonymous

    @Roland Knox

    Can you post some backup to that assertion?

  • Capt. Concernicus

    @ Charles,

    When the transport ship lets off the “gas” then it will glide in the water using regenerative “braking” and charging the batteries via the propellors just like on a Prius with the brakes. lol!

    I’d like to know what the savings would be like if every transport ship and supertanker did this and translate that number into something us car guys and gals could understand. It would give us more meaning to the numbers.

  • Alexei

    It would have been much better to use http://www.skysails.info/english/
    It would have saved a lot more than 1% of fuel.

  • Charles

    @Cpat. Concernicus,

    Thanks. I still wonder how much glide time a ship has. In a 5000 mile Japan to US, I would think only 1% of the time would be braking. It maybe worth it.

  • Capt. Concernicus


    I was throwing a little humor into the mix about the whole ship gliding. Sorry, I didn’t mean for you to take me serious about it.

  • MrEnergyCzar

    One of the many sad attempts we’ll make to continue to use our non-local global inefficient transport system during the downslope of Peak Oil…..


  • JJJ

    Ehm, wouldnt making cars for the US in america, cars for europe in europe and cars for japan in japan solve the shipping pollution situation….?

  • Chuck

    120+- gallons of diesel per miles will takes these big rigs to move in dirty old diesel technology. Not much of “glide time” it just keeps pumping to move. Ships/boats do not have break system unless you can put in reverse but in big rig carriers, you don’t back up unless in emergency. So yea.. I believe in Roland Knox wrote… Unless someone can tell me these big rig ships are eco friendly.. Roland Knox doesn’t have to prove anything. PS. You do know these rigs are made long time ago and they never made improvements to eco friendly in mind.. Just to carry stuff. I bet there are rigs out there on ocean today from 1950’s still getting job done..

  • Jim1961

    The solar panels provide .05% of the propulsion power. Really? It seems like they’re just doing this for good PR. It’s like putting a postage stamp-sized solar panel on a house.

  • Roland Knox

    I appreciate the challenge from anonymous. I have attempted to solve this with simple math and if my numbers are incorrect please let me know. This may get tedious. If the avg car gets 21 mpg thats = to 3/4 cups or 180 ml of fuel or 180,000 microliters of fuel per mile. 1 U.S. gallon = 3786 ml or 3,786,000 microliters. So 120 U.S. gallons of fuel equal 454,320,000 microliters to go 1 mile. This means it would take 71.31 cars per microliter times 180,000 microliters to drive 1 mile or use the equivalent amount of gas for a total of 12,835,800 cars per cargo ship.

    There are roughly 1 billion passenger cars on the road per 2010 stats around the world. This means roughly 77 cargo ships burn the equivalent amount of fuel as a billion cars. My original number was off by a multiple of 6 and this was educational for me. BBC reports that as of 2006 there were 7936 container ships from here you do the math on who is the bigger polluter and where a more serious problem lies than with personal transportation.

  • Roland Knox

    I appreciate the challenge from anonymous. I have attempted to solve this with simple math. If my numbers are off let me know. If the avg car gets 21mpg thats equivalent to 3/4 cup of fuel or 180 ml or 180,000 microliters of fuel per mile. The avg container ship gets 120 U.S. gallons per mile or 454,352,000 microliters per mile. This would take 71.31 cars per microliter times 180,000 microliters to equal the avg containership or 12,835,800 cars to use the same amount of fuel to go the same distance. As of 2010 there is roughly 1 Billion cars on the road worldwide. Roughly 78 container ships use the same amount of fuel. As of 2006 BBC reports that there are 7936 containerships worldwide. I was off by a multiple of 6 and this was a great learning exercize but you can do the math on who the larger polluter is and where the larger problem lies.

  • Roland Knox

    I was actually off by a multiple of seven. Sounds kinda large but not nearly as large as the cars to container ship ratio. Thanks for the article and allowing avg. people to participate.

  • Alan H


    Seems like you messed up your math somehow.

    Cargoship 120 gpm
    Avg car assumed 21 mpg –> 0.047 gpm

    Therefore, this cargoship consumes the equivalent of 120/0.047=2520 cars of fuel per mile.

    Not really that bad

    Now, say a typical route is 5000 miles, and takes roughly 13 days, that translates to 140,000 miles per year, vs typical car is say 15,000 miles per year

    So, this cargoship consumes the equivalent of about 25,000 cars, which is significant, but not massive

    Even if all the 7900 carships had roughly the same consumption , the whole cargo fleet is the equivelent to about 20 million cars


  • Old Man Crowder

    I was with Alan, right up to his final calculation.

    25,000 x 7900 = 197,500,000

    That would be almost 200 million cars.

    That’s a lot of cars.

  • Mr. Fusion

    Wow, all these numbers!

    What about the big picture? It’s a hybrid solar ship!!

    It doesn’t matter that the initial test run showed minute savings. They are significant because they prove this works. The second test will be better, then other’s will jump on board and it will improve even more.

    Toyota has done it again.

    Very soon we will literally see the light, plug in to that giant battery in the sky and stop being a dim society.

  • Old Man Crowder

    Oh, and I wanted to add:

    If we assume that the solar panels and the batteries reduce the fuel consumption by 5% (not knowing what “a fair amount better” means, as referenced in the article), I calculate that that translates into about 10 million cars off the road.

    Sounds like lots of cars, except that 10 million out of 1 billion is only 1%.

    I sure hope those batteries do better than 5%.

  • Nasdram

    Considering there is not much time to recharge the battery from braking, it could also be that the battery is charged from the grid when the ship is in port and then uses the energy while traveling.

    Such systems are already installed in some European ports (maybe somewhere else as well) because normally the ship motor would have to run while in port to provide the electricity.

    Though i’m with Alexei! The Skysail system has reportable a fuel reduction of up to 36% and is already installed on a handful of commercial ships. If they want, they can do research on hybrid ships but why not install a system that works and has a nice return on investment.

  • Chuck

    Don’t forget about cruise ships.. They do a lot more damage then cargo ships.. They never cut off all engines even when it’s docked because inside facility needs to be kept running and keep offline engines wormed up. They can never put solar panels on these things.. Image going on cruise vacation and find solar panels over the deck.. That wont sail..

  • Shines

    Sorry Old Man Crowder the article says the savings on propulsion from the solar is .05% (not 5%) still, here is my simple calculations
    120 gals/mile * .0005 = .06 gallons saved per mile
    .06 * 5000 miles traveled from Japan to West Coast US = 300 gallons saved. (per trip)
    300 * 7 (lbs weight of diesel fuel per gallon) = 2100 lbs of fuel weight saved (available for the battery and solar panels).
    I also like the idea of using the sails: take advantage of the wind when it’s available over the open seas. Of course the wind only helps when it is faster than the ship is cruising and is blowing in the right direction. Seems like it would help more than .05% during a 5000 mile trip.

  • Nasdram

    @Shines: If you want more information on the Skysails http://www.skysails.info/english/information-center/background-information/skysails-performance-calculation/

    “SkySails has conducted numerous studies on the savings potential of SkySails-Systems based on data from practical trials on cargo vessels, logbook extracts, and historical weather data. Actual ocean voyages were also recomputed. The result of these computations is a savings potential of between 10% and 35% depending on the ship.”

  • DownUnder

    Why did you use mircorlitre in your calculation? A smoke screen?

  • Pablo

    The batteries make the loading of the diesel smoother.
    So you do not have to rev up a diesel engine and emit plums of smoke (particulates). When you need you ramp it up slowly.

  • Roland


    I used microliters to break down the equivalent use of 120 gpm because there isn’t any passenger car on the road that could accomadate a equivalent load to a cargo ship. I originally was going with the 3/4 cup or 180 ml being 1/20th of a gallon but that still doesn’t break down how many ice cars would have to run to be equivalent to 120gpm.

    Alan H,

    I honestly questioned myself and my math but I had to go smaller ie microliters to figure out. The use of 3/4 cup or 180 ml of fuel in a car that gets 21mpg does not equate and causes an apples to oranges comparrison. This is why I went from gallons to 3/4 cups, to ml, to microliters because its about how many cars can run to be equivalent to 120gpm.

    These numbers are staggering and I believe it could be computed in many different ways to benefit any individual idea. I was challenged to meet my statement and that is what I was answering. No smokescreen was meant and I still believe I was off by a multiple of 7.

    The purpose of my response is about oil consumption and where it could be improved greatly. I hope we are all in agreement with that .

  • shweta007

    The explanations and the details given not only in the thread but also in the comments was quite an interesting read.Quite enlightening too what you said about the diesel hybrid ships used to transport Toyota Hybrids.

  • Roland

    Also, I searched down where I originally got my statement from and it wasn’t just about fuel use but pollution overall. Interesting article says 16 tanker ships can equal the pollution to all the cars in the world. Something else for us to consider. Please see posted article:


  • Chas

    Why not put up a or some sails to augment the system? Didn’t the Japanese one in use?

  • Chas

    How many gallons of diesel an hour does the average Super-tanker use?
    How many gallons of diesel fuel does the average Super-tanker carry?

  • Chuck

    They don’t use diesel like you put in automobiles in these cargo/cruise ships. Silly! LOL They need junk that’s left from purifying graded diesel or other fuel. The stuff that’s left is pumped into these ships. Who else would buy this dirty fuel? No one. Once dirty fuel is in the tank, it needs to be processed before it burn as good as diesel.. It’s called bunker fuel one step above being tar and that’s what they burn to reduce cost.. If they burn pure diesel like you put in car, do you have any idea how much it’s going to cost for any and all oversea stuff? Put a kite towers on the ship so it can catch wind to save $ so they can not carry as much stuff? That’s like telling you to go to grocery store twice in same day so you don’t over load your car. That’s just funny and not going to happen unless company is looking for PR.


    How much of fuel they burn per hour? It depends on wind, current, load, size of ship, number of engines, power of engines, condition of hull, and etc. it’s like asking how many mpg lunar rover can get at year 2015 at June 18th if the earth weather was sunny and I don’t have answer for you. You look it up. Tank size? The ship has stuff on it. It needs to go to drop it off. It needs to do it as cheap as possible and meet target time. It happened yesterday, last week, last month, ten years ago, and 50 years ago… Rinse and repeat. They can carry as much fuel to get the job done.

  • The other Anonymous


    “Twelve of the largest cargo ships pollute more than all automobiles on the planet combined…” IIRC, the original article I read was talking about pollutants like nitrious oxide, not carbon emission. Don’t be confused.

    – with more ships switch to low sulphur diesel and more efficient ships being built, the trend of such pollutant will only decrease;
    – transport by water is the most energy efficient way of moving good around the globe;
    – in your calculation, I believe you use the fuel consumption of typical cars, but there’re many trucks and rigs that travel huge mileage thru’ out the continent at much higher fuel consumption, have you consider this? (And many times, they are essential to our ‘consumer’ centric society. We have too much pollution because we consumer too much and unnecessarily.)

  • Chuck

    Stop making me laugh.

    – with more ships switch to low sulphur diesel and more efficient ships being built, the trend of such pollutant will only decrease;

    That’s funny. Buy more expensive fuel and charge consumers and don’t worry about left bunker fuel in millions of gallons that nobody else can use. Bunker fuel will need to get processed more so they can extract what’s left to be used as fuel so as the efficient ships rolls out, old ships that use even cheaper bunker fuel in future will be kept live as long as they can. Why do you think they put those exhaust pipes so high up in air? How about those boat exhaust pipes? You tell me where they are. LOL

    – transport by water is the most energy efficient way of moving good around the globe;

    How else would you transport? 70% of earth surface is ocean. LOL

    – in your calculation, I believe you use the fuel consumption of typical cars, but there’re many trucks and rigs that travel huge mileage thru’ out the continent at much higher fuel consumption, have you consider this? (And many times, they are essential to our ‘consumer’ centric society. We have too much pollution because we consumer too much and unnecessarily.)

    Automobiles on road do not use dirty fuel like they do in cargocruise ships. Ships are raping air. That’s why I bought up the cruise ships (Consumers needs vacation!).. They do more damage then cargo ships BTW. They are all equipped with enough electric generators at highest peak temperature to run A/C in ALL rooms. Do you have any idea what that equals to? Think of it like a big hotel that doesn’t have electric wires going in to building but burn fuel to power itself and move itself. LOL

  • mmf

    Roland, your math is bad. The fuel consumption ratio is 2520 to 1 as Alan and Crowder suggested. How do you get the magic number, 71.31?

  • Mahmud

    For a reference to this discussion I think we should have a look at last minute move.

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