Based in Nantes, France, Neoline plans to build two wind-powered cargo ships by 2020.
Jean-Philippe Hermine, vice president of strategic environmental planning at Renault, said the automaker’s objective is to reduce the environmental impact of each vehicle throughout its entire life cycle, from parts transportation up to delivery and end-of-life processing.
Neoline says it aims to develop “industrial-scale wind-powered freight services that are cleaner, customized and competitive, in response to the logistical needs of shippers.”
It says it has designed a commercial demonstration ship with the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 90 percent through the use of wind power primarily, combined with a cost-cutting speed and optimized energy mix.”
It plans to build two small sailing ships — equipped with auxiliary engines — and commission the vessels by 2020-21. The ships would have two decks totaling 3,436 square meters with 5,000 dwt capacity. They could carry 500 cars or up to 280 TEUs of containerized cargo or 5,000 tons of cargo. The ships would have the ability to handle oversize freight up to 9.8 meters high and weighing 200 tons.
Adrien Prot, a sales representative for the company says Neoline has lined up investors and banks for the project. and "launched our shipyard tender 3 months ago. Today we are waiting for the right offer, technically and economically viable."
He said in addition to Renault other shippers have shown interest in the project.
The company says with two ships it could offer a twice-a-month service with a rotation between Saint Nazaire, France-Bilbao, Spain-Charleston-Baltimore and Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, the French islands south of Newfoundland-Saint Nazaire. The rotation was designed, in part because of prevailing winds.
Neoline explains on its website that the ships are scaled to avoid competing with major liner companies and that it will focus on a niche market.
Prot said the ship would be highly automated, but that it would hire crew that have sailing skills. He noted that some of Neoline's investors have seagoing experience as captains or other officers with experience on both sailing vessels and cargo ships.