Toyota helped make maritime history in June 2009 by shipping its cars across the world on board the world’s first solar-power-assisted car carrier, the Auriga Leader. The 60,000-ton vessel, contracted exclusively to Toyota Motor Corporation by shipping company NYK Line, is outfitted with 328 solar panels on its top deck that can generate up to 40 kilowatts of power, reducing demand on the engines and thus cutting both fuel use and emissions.
The technology has been developed as a demonstration project by Toyota and NYK Line. Other ships have used similar concepts, but only to provide power for the crew quarters.
Launched in Kobe, Japan in December 2008, the 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 percent by 2010, together with a range of other design, technical and operational improvements.