Norway's Hoegh Autoliners is accelerating towards zero-carbon with a potential order for a multifuel car carrier that will be the world's biggest.

The Aurora-class vessel will carry 9,100 car equivalent units (ceu) and run on conventional and biofuels, as well as LNG, initially.

The company said the ship will also be prepared for future zero-carbon fuels such as green ammonia, which will involve "minor transitions".

The capacity of the carrier will beat Hoegh Autoliners' own record of 8,500 ceu, according to shipbroker Clarksons.

Hoegh Autoliners has signed a memorandum of understanding with China's Xiamen Shipbuilding Industry, a long-term partner, for delivery of the newbuilding by the end of 2023.

The shipowner is promising the most environmentally friendly car carrier ever built. No price has been revealed.

"The Aurora class represents a big step on our path to a zero-emissions future," Hoegh Autoliners chief executive Andreas Enger said.

Hoegh Autoliners said it has a solid history of emission cuts and long-term efforts to combat climate change.

Since 2008, the fleet's carbon intensity has fallen 37%.

The company added that Aurora is designed to transport the cargo of the future.

Its strengthened decks and enhanced internal ramp systems enable electric vehicles on all decks and provide more flexibility for heavier project cargo.

'Significant contribution'

"With the multifuel engine and DNV’s new ammonia-ready notation, Hoegh Autoliners is bringing the segment and work to decarbonise the maritime industry to a new level," said Hans Eivind Siewers, director of passengerships and ro-ros at class society DNV.

Hoegh Autoliners wants to hit net zero emissions by 2040.

"Together with our customers and trusted partners, we will make a significant contribution to a more sustainable maritime industry," Enger said.

Kjeld Aabo, director of new technologies at engine maker MAN Energy Solutions, said that after modifications to the engine, tank and other systems, Hoegh Autoliners' newbuilding will be ready to run on virtually any future zero-carbon fuel, including ammonia.

Janne Uotila, chief executive of designer Deltamarin, said ammonia storage has been considered in the blueprint.

"Cooperation with Hoegh has always been excellent, and it has been our privilege to work alongside with the innovative, responsible, and forward-looking professionals who know their own business thoroughly," he said.