The fire on the Felicity Ace ship off the coast of Portugal’s Azores Islands is expected to generate at least $155 million in losses for Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi, and Lamborghini, according to risk analyst Russell Group.
The ship has been reported to be carrying around 4,000 vehicles, although the exact number has not been disclosed publicly. An internal email from Volkswagen US reported in German media last week showed that the ship was carrying 3,965 vehicles belonging to Volkswagen Group brands VW, Porsche, Audi, and Lamborghini. Porsche has confirmed that 1,100 of their cars were on board.
According to an analysis from the UK-based Russell Group, the total dollar value of goods on the ship is estimated to be $438 million and, of that, an estimated $401 million was for cars and goods vehicles. The estimates assumes the total loss of the cargo.
The Felicity Ace caught fire on February 16 while crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Embden, Germany, where Volkswagen has a large manufacturing plant, to the United States.
A least some of the car on board are believed to be electric vehicles with lithion-ion batteries that can complicate fire-fighting.
“These figures showed once again the precariousness of global supply chains. The incident comes at a bad time for global carmakers who are in the middle of a supply chain crisis sourcing semiconductors, resulting in new delays for new cars,” said Russell Group Managing Director Suki Basi. “An event like this will not do a great deal in instilling trust with consumers.”
Two large salvage tugs were expected to arrive at the vessel earlier in the day on Monday. The ship remains abandoned and the fire continues to burn as it drifts south of Azores, posing no threat to land, according to an update from the ship’s manager, a subsidiary of Japanese shipping company MOL. The Portuguese Navy has remained on scene monitoring the ship.
So far here are no reports of oil leaking and the vessel remains stable.
All 22 crew members abandoned ship safely and have been transferred to shore.
It’s almost assured that the Felicity Ace will be declared a total loss, which was assumed in the Russel Group’s analysis.
As an aside, the Golden Ray car carrier was also carrying around 4,000 vehicles (4,100 to be exact) when it capsized and grounded in St. Simons Sound while departing the Port of Brunswick in Georgia, USA, in 2019. In its report on the incident, the NTSB determined that total cargo losses were estimated at $142 million. A report by Car and Driver said the vehicles lost were from Kia, Chevrolet, GMC, GM, Mercedes-Benz, and Ram. The ship had to be dismantled in place with the cars still inside.