Tesla Using LNG Powered Ferries To Deliver Cars To Norway

Tesla prides itself on limiting the carbon emissions from its manufacturing operations. The Gigafactory, its new $5 billion battery making facility in Nevada, was designed from the ground up to be net zero and have zero emissions. The factory will generate most of the electricity it needs from solar panels and wind turbines. It is so green, Tesla decided to not even provide it with a natural gas supply for use in emergencies.

Teslas on Ferry Anders Sandvik saysla.no

Natural gas is a fossil fuel, so it doesn’t qualify as being a fully sustainable energy source. But it still burns much cleaner than coal, gasoline, or diesel fuel. In today’s world of global commerce, most of the world’s goods travel by ship at some point. Commercial ships burn what is known as bunker oil. It is the heaviest,dirtiest form of diesel fuel there is. According to a story in the Daily Mail, the annual emissions from just 16 ocean going cargo ships equal the emissions from all the cars in the world.

Norway is one of Tesla’s biggest markets in Europe, thanks to generous electric car incentives put in place by the Norwegian government. Typically, cars destined for sale in Norway are shipped across the Atlantic to Bremerhaven, Germany. From their they are trucked by diesel powered transporters to Kristiansand in southern Norway, then placed on other trucks to be delivered to the rest of the country.

Last fall, Anders Sandvik of Nor Lines, a Norwegian shipping company, purchased a Tesla Model S. Nor Lines has two new ferries that are powered by liquefied nature gas (LNG). Those ships have far lower emissions than conventional diesel powered vessels. Sandvik started thinking about how his Model S got to him in Norway and saw an opportunity for his company.

“I didn’t think it made any sense for cars going to western and northern Norway through a port in the east of the country,” Sandvik told Norwegian news site PursuitGreen. He got in touch with Tesla and suggested it consider shipping its cars by sea using Nor Lines’ LNG powered ferries. He pointed out that using a sea route would eliminate hundreds of trips a year by diesel powered trucks. In the end, Tesla liked Sandvik’s proposal. The first shipment of 79 cars from Kristiansand to the port of Drammen on Norway’s western coast was completed on March 29.

The lower emissions from shipping by sea appealed to Tesla.  “I don’t think we would have crossed the finish line as easily if the ships were run on heavy oil,” he says. Now, Sandvik is hoping to convince Tesla to ship all its cars bound for Norway directly from Bremerhaven to Norwegian ports on his LNG powered ferries. He thinks his company could be transporting 40 to 50 cars a week on a regular basis soon.

Sandvik has nothing but praise for Tesla and its commitment to the environment. “I think it is wonderful that Tesla dares to be a little different than the traditional commodity owner. They really take the environment seriously and actively seek to minimize their carbon footprint. I miss such vigor in other industries today,” Sandvik says.

Tesla being loaded on LNG ferry

A special thank you to Leif Hansen in Norway for bringing this story to our attention.

Photos courtesy of Anders Sandvik/Nor Lines


Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.