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Volkswagen Group: the first estimates of damage from the Felicity Ace fire arrive

As many as 3,965 Volkswagen Group cars were involved in the Felicity Ace fire last Wednesday: here are the first estimates of the damage.

On Wednesday 16 February a cargo ship full of Volkswagen Group cars caught fire off the Azores islands. Fortunately, the 22 crew members – promptly evacuated – found no consequences. But the same cannot be said in terms of economic damage. The cars involved would be 3,965 and, according to Skyek’s estimates, the losses would amount to about 500 million dollars .

Departing from Emden, Germany, Felicity Ace , a portacointaner of Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines, was headed for the US port of Davisville, Rhode Island. The timely rescue of the Portuguese navy and air force averted possible tragedies. Still, the firefighters are still struggling to put out the fire for good.

Lithium-ion batteries keep the fire alive

João Mendes Cabeças , the captain of the nearby port on the island of Faial (in the Azores), joined by Reuters, explained: “It will take some time” . He later gave some details on the situation, highlighting how the ship ‘s lithium-ion electric car batteries are “keeping the fire alive.” Circumstances made it necessary to resort to specialized equipment to extinguish the stake . It is still unclear whether it was the accumulators that triggered the fire.

In detail, there were 189 Bentleys and 1,100 Porsches on the ship (a number confirmed by the manufacturer). The rest of the load was made up of Lamborghini , Audi and Volkswagen, in still undefined percentages, as indicated by the German financial magazine Handelsblatt , citing an internal VW USA email. Based on the data it has available, Skytek has made estimates on the global extent of damage caused by the fire: counting the number of specimens involved and the cost of the models, as well as the estimated value for Felicity Ace (24.5 million of dollars), the total losses could be close to half a billion dollars (about 440 million euros based on the current exchange rate).

In any case, the insurances should fully cover the amount, as is usually the case for ship transport. At the end of the works, the Felicity Ace will be towed to a European country or to the Bahamas, but it is not yet known when this will be possible.