1,000 tractors to be shipped across Atlantic – by sail

France’s Manitou Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of heavy equipment vehicles, has signed on to ship 1,000 of their machines to the US on a NEOLINE 136m/450ft vessel powered by 4,200 m²/45,000sqft of sails.

Augustin Merle, Transport and Logistics Manager at the Manitou group, said “It is essential for the Manitou group that we have access to transport solutions that are both efficient and responsible. NEOLINE’s proposal is a perfect fit for our operational needs.” He noted that about 80% of Manitou’s revenues are earned internationally.

NEOLINE is a project founded in 2015 by a group of French companies, organizations and maritime professionals convinced of the necessity of more environmentally responsible maritime transport. The goal in the end is large scale zero-emission ocean freighters. The construction vehicles will be shipped in 2019 as part of a pilot project in which sails are the main source of power but are backed up and augmented with 4000kW diesel-electric engine.

The NEOLINE website says “As for the use of mechanical propulsion and complementary conventional energies to secure commercial speed, ensure port manoeuvres and produce electricity on board, the NEOLINE project plans to replace them with renewable energies in the long term, thus moving towards zero emission transport.

Two illustrations: tractors being loaded onto the back of a large boat and yachts being loaded on same boat
The Ro-Ro works for Manitou construction equipment and Benneteau yachts

The boat is what is called a ro-ro configuration, for Roll On Roll Off cargo. Michel Perry, President of NEOLINE, says that the plan is to “equip our vessels with movable decks whose dimensions and resistance are perfectly suited to the machines of the Manitou group.

The new shipping method is estimated to save more than 4,000 tons* of CO2 per year on this pilot. The other goal of the company is to make sure that their product and service is totally competitive with other options. M. Merle of Manitou said as a customer“With this service, we will maintain similar delivery times, while optimizing pre-routing from our factories in Grand Ouest to the port of Nantes – Saint-Nazaire.

After the pilot projects, the plan is to build two ships of this model, with a commissioning goal of 2021.

Manitou is only the latest French corporation to sign on for and endorse the NEOLINE solution. Benneteau signed up for the France to North America service, working together on the ro-ro configuration to allow it hold their largest boats and In November carmaker Renault announced the signing of a 3-year partnership with NEOLINE to help to reduce the environmental impact of each vehicle throughout its entire life cycle.

Speaking of which, Manitou also announced last year that it was partnering with Deutz Engines to electrify the drive trains of its rough terrain construction equipment.

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