A pair of burning lithium-ion batteries could make salvaging the huge, abandoned freighter in the Atlantic Ocean carrying thousands of Porsches, Volkswagens, Bentleys and Lamborghinis more difficult.
The batteries of an unknown number of electric vehicles have caught fire on board the ship, said Captain Joao Mendes Cabecas of the Port of Hortas, the closest port to the ship’s location. Reuters† It is not clear at this time whether the batteries caused the fire. Experts in extinguishing battery fires are needed to extinguish the fire.
“The ship is burning from one end to the other…everything is on fire about five meters above the waterline,” Reuters quotes Cabeças saying.
The Felicity Ace was en route from Germany to a port in Rhode Island when it sent distress signals Wednesday morning reporting a fire in one of its cargo decks. All 22 crew were successfully evacuated and did not require medical attention, a statement from the Portuguese Navy said.
The ship’s owner is now developing a plan to salvage the abandoned ship. Tugs are en route from Gibraltar and the Netherlands and are expected to arrive at the vessel’s location next week.
On board were approximately 1,100 Porsches and 189 Bentleys, as well as an unspecified number of Audis. According to Importinfo.com, the electric vehicles may have been Audi E-tron Sportbacks. All told, the number of vehicles lost in the fire is likely to exceed $150 million, although automakers declined to provide an estimate.
“We are aware of an incident involving a third-party freighter carrying Volkswagen Group vehicles across the Atlantic,” a VW spokesperson said. The edge† “The ship was on its way to North America. There are currently no known injuries. We are in contact with the shipping company to get more information about the incident.”
The fire is another blow to VW at a time when global semiconductor shortages and supply chain disruptions are rampaging the auto industry. The automaker recently announced that it would likely cut some night shifts at one of its German plants due to the chip shortage. VW says it can ramp up production in the second half of the year.