Sea Stories

Lithium Batteries in Vehicles give you that sinking feeling

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Luxury cars worth over $400 million were destroyed in cargo ship fire. The Felicity Ace was carrying more than 4,000 Volkswagen Group vehicles destroying over $400-million-worth of luxury and commercial vehicles, according to a risk modelling firm.

It has taken a week to extinguish the blaze, with the lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars being blamed for the conflagration and making it difficult to put out.

The pivot away from gasoline to electric-powered vehicles ‘to save the environment’ is proving problematic. Notorious for self-ignition spontaneous combustion it is deemed perilous to have such a vehicle in one’s home garage.

The Russell Group said the total dollar value of goods on the ship was $438 million, of which an estimated $401 million comprised cars and goods transporters.

German media outlets have quoted an internal email from Volkswagen US, which stated that the ship had been carrying 3,965 VW, Porsche, Audi, and Lamborghini-badged vehicles. Porsche confirmed that 1,100 of its cars had been on board, and the fire is expected to generate at least $155 million in expected losses for Volkswagen, the Russell Group said.

These figures showed once again the precariousness of global supply chains. The incident comes at a bad time for global carmakers, which are in the middle of a supply chain crisis sourcing semiconductors, resulting in more delays for new cars,’ said Suki Basi, the risk modelling firm’s managing director.

The 650ft-long Felicity Ace caught fire off the coast of Portugal’s Azores Islands last Wednesday as it voyaged from Germany to the US. The Portuguese Navy safely evacuated all 22 crew members.

It has taken a week to extinguish the blaze, with the lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars being blamed for making it difficult to put out. The navy said on Tuesday that there were now no visible fire outbreaks on the ship, but cooling operations were still underway. Source 1 Source 2


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