Italian shipping company Grimaldi Group is investing $300m in five car carriers to provide services between Europe and the US. The vessels are most likely to be used for the transport of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, though this was unconfirmed by Grimaldi.

The vessels will each be able to carry 7,000 cars and will each have 13 decks. The order is expected to be finalised this month and Grimaldi has shortlisted a number of shipyards in China to build the vessels, with which it is currently in negotiations.

"The five vessels are expected to be deployed between the Mediterranean and North America and should transport vehicles produced in Italy and sold in North America (US and Canada),” confirmed a spokesperson for Grimaldi. “They will obviously also target US exports to Europe.”

Currently the Grimaldi Group provides a weekly ro-ro service between the Mediterranean and North America to all vehicle manufacturers located on both shores of the Atlantic. As reported in January, the company launched a new direct service between Europe and the US last month, including the Italian port of Civitavecchia and the ports of Baltimore and Halifax in the US, to transport cars and other ro-ro cargo.

The new link is the first direct and regular service between the Mediterranean and US for vehicle transport.