Solar-assisted ship brings Priuses to CA - Click above to watch the video after the break

Considering that a single container ship may emit as much as 50 million cars, even small reductions of fossil fuel energy needed to import vehicles to the U.S. are a good thing. While soome ship ideas use giant kites, Toyota has partnered up with the NYK Line for a new ship called the Auriga Leader that uses 328 photovoltaic panels to generate up to 40 kW of electricity that reduce demand on the diesel engines. Plans for the ship were announced last year.

The Auriga Leader is owned by NYK and is under contract exclusively to Toyota to bring cars from Japan to the West Coast of the U.S., particularly Long Beach, California. When it arrived in Long Beach earlier this month, the ship unloaded 2,507 Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles. The ship has space for up to 6,200 vehicles. There's a video of the arrival after the jump.

[Source: Toyota]



Toyota has helped make maritime history by shipping its cars across the world on board a ship part-powered by solar energy. The Auriga Leader docked in Long Beach, California earlier this month with new Prius and other Toyota and Lexus models on board, destined for the North American market. On its voyage from Japan, the ship was able to harness the power of the sun to reduce demand on its diesel engines.

It is yet another example of how new Prius benefits from clever use of renewable energy sources throughout its life cycle. Solar power provides a large proportion of the electricity used to power the Tsutsumi factory where it is built, and, in a first for a volume production car, Prius can be equipped with its own solar panels to run a fan to keep the cabin cool while the car is parked.

The Auriga Leader is the first vessel of its kind to use solar power in this way, capturing energy through 328 photovoltaic panels mounted on its top deck. The system produces up to 40 kilowatts of electricity, reducing demand on the engines and thus cutting both fuel use and emissions. The technology has been developed as a demonstration project by Toyota Motor Corporation and NYK Line, the vessel's owner and operator. Other ships have used similar concepts, but only to provide power for the crew quarters.

Launched in Kobe, Japan, last December, the 60,000-tonne ship is 200m long and can carry 6,200 vehicles. Its performance contributes towards NYK's aim of reducing its car carrier fleet energy consumption by 50 per cent by 2010, together with a range of other design, technical and operational improvements.

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