Guangzhou Shipyard International (GSI) has added car carriers to its product portfolio with an order for two LNG-fuelled ships from John Fredriksen's SFL Corp.

Shipping sources with knowledge of the newbuilding deal said SFL is paying the state-owned shipyard around $75m each for the 7,000-ceu newbuildings.

Officials at GSI were not available for comment.

As TradeWinds has reported, New York-listed SFL said at the end of April that it was ordering the vessels against a 10-year charter from a European automobile manufacturer.

At the time, the company did not disclose the name of the shipyard or the charterer, but it said the car carriers will be delivered in 2023.

Elaborating on the details, SFL said the contract is on a time-charter basis and, until the new vessels are delivered, the charterer will use two of the Oslo-headquartered shipowner's existing, conventionally-fuelled car carriers. The value of the charter contract is worth $200m.

The temporary vessels were named as the 6,500-ceu SFL Composer (built 2005) and SFL Conductor (built 2006).

Shipping sources said automobile manufacturer Volkswagen is the charterer of SFL’s newbuildings.

The Fredriksen-backed company declined to confirm the identity of the charterer.

Lauterjung Shipmanagement has been appointed by SFL as technical manager of the LNG-fuelled car carriers. The German company is an owner and manager with a fleet of around 20 vessels, including multipurpose units and bulkers.

Clarksons’ Shipping Intelligence Network shows there are currently 17 car carriers — excluding SFL’s newbuildings — being built at shipyards. Only eight of those will be powered by LNG fuel.

United European Car Carriers and NYK Line are the only two companies that have ordered LNG-fuelled ships.

Shipping sources said a few shipyards contended for SFL’s newbuilding project, including car-carrier shipbuilding specialist Xiamen Shipbuilding Industry.

SFL’s order marks GSI first foray into the car-carrier segment even though it has built and delivered ropax and ferries.

Last month, GSI joined the containership segment after it secured an order of six 16,000-teu newbuildings from Mediterranean Shipping Co worth around $752m. It is slated to deliver the LNG-ready vessels between 2023 and 2024.