At least some of the Tesla electric cars that come to Europe from the factories in the USA and China are brought across the sea by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics – for example, last October Tesla showed a ship with large lettering from the Norwegian-Swedish shipping company that Waiting in Shanghai for Model 3 to be loaded. And in the future, these transports could become significantly more environmentally friendly: Wallenius Wilhelmsen wants to have a car transporter built that moves mainly with the force of the wind.
Across the Atlantic in 12 days
“Wind helped us to discover the planet – now it can help to preserve it”, says the catchy words on the website of Wallenius Marine, the Swedish part of 1999 together with the Norwegian partner Wilh. Wilhelmsen founded Tesla shipping company. In September 2020, Wallenius presented his Oceanbird concept: a transporter for 7000 cars with five extendable sails intended for Atlantic crossings. So far there has only been a 7-meter test version, but as Wallenius Wilhelmsen announced this week, the company will soon have the first sea bird ship built in full size.
The concept only has to do with a classic sailing ship insofar as both use wind for their propulsion. However, it has no masts on which large textile sails are raised, but rather rigid structures, which Wallenius calls “wing sails”. They can be extended to a height of up to 80 meters, but can also be pushed down into one another to pass bridges or not to go too fast in a storm. The vertical wings are made of steel and composite material and can be rotated 360 degrees. An Atlantic crossing should take twelve days instead of eight days with a motor; Oceanbird also has a fossil auxiliary drive just in case.
Realization comes late for Tesla
According to the announcement from Wallenius Wilhelmsen, the plan is to create a design by mid-2022, the implementation of which can be commissioned from a shipyard. Orcelle Wind will be the name of the first large sailing transport ship of modern times and will set sail for the first time in 2025. By then, Tesla will probably not have as great a transport requirement as it does today, because the company is building a new Gigafactory in Germany for the European market, and more are likely to follow. But occasionally Tesla might still need a ship – and then for the first time would have the opportunity to make the transport of its electric cars cleaner.