VW sued over Porsche EV igniting Felicity Ace car carrier

The fire on the cargo ship Felicity Ace, which caused the loss of several thousand vehicles, is finding its way to court. A probe points to a Porsche EV aboard with a defective battery having ignited the fire. That kept the ship burning for two weeks before it sank. The Volkswagen Group is facing lawsuits over liability.

Volkswagen Group is embroiled in legal turmoil following the catastrophic loss of the Felicity Ace cargo ship in February 2022. The ship, laden with approximately 4,000 vehicles, met a fiery demise in the Atlantic Ocean, a disaster attributed to a fire that reportedly originated from the lithium-ion battery of a Porsche EV’s electric vehicle.

At that time, Porsche’s line-up comprised only one battery-powered car: the Taycan. According to a Bloomberg article, this incident has triggered two lawsuits against the German automotive conglomerate.

Failing at necessary safeguards

The court saga began nearly a year after the incident, with one lawsuit filed in Stuttgart, Porsche’s home turf, spearheaded by the vessel’s operator, Mitsui OSK Lines, and its insurer, Allianz. A second lawsuit followed in Braunschweig, aiming directly at Volkswagen Group. These legal actions underscore the plaintiffs’ allegations that Volkswagen Group failed to adequately communicate the risks and necessary safeguards required to transport electric models.

This controversy shines a light on the broader industry challenge of ensuring the safe passage of EVs amidst rising incidents of lithium-ion battery fires. The Felicity Ace, setting sail from Emden, Germany, to Davisville, Rhode Island, was engulfed in flames off the Azores, leading to a total evacuation of its crew. Efforts to salvage the vessel proved futile, culminating in its sinking after a fortnight adrift, marking a profound operational and environmental debacle.

To the abyss

The vehicles lost to the abyss included models from Volkswagen’s brands, such as Porsche, Audi, VW, Bentley, and Lamborghini, as well as a handful of privately owned classics. The ship is believed to have carried luxury cars worth $155 million (€142 million).

The loss proved particularly challenging for Lamborghini, which needed to restart production of the Aventador model to replace the 15 perished Ultimae units aboard the Felicity Ace.

Insurer Allianz is now faced with reevaluating and enhancing safety protocols to mitigate such dangerous occurrences in the future. The lawsuit and negotiations ahead might reshape the operational frameworks within the automotive transport sector as EVs increasingly become the standard.


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