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Luxury cars continue to burn on abandoned cargo ship

A cargo ship that has been ablaze in the mid-Atlantic since last week is reported to be carrying around 4,000 vehicles worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

An estimate published on Monday by risk solutions company Russell Group suggested that the Felicity Ace cargo vessel has on board around $400 million worth of vehicles, many of them luxury cars from the likes of Porsche, Audi, Bentley, and Lamborghini.

The Felicity Aces ablaze in the mid-Atlantic.
The Felicity Ace ablaze in the mid-Atlantic. Portuguese Navy handout

Volkswagen, which owns the brands, hasn’t said publicly how many of each model are on board the Felicity Ace, though media reports suggest the consignment includes around 1,000 Porsches and 189 Bentleys.

The ship caught fire near the Azores about 900 miles west of Portugal last Wednesday as it sailed from Emden, Germany, to Davisville, Rhode Island. The 22-person crew were safely evacuated soon after the blaze started.

The operator of Felicity Ace, Singapore-based MOL Ship Management, said on Monday that it believed the vessel was still burning five days on. Firefighting boats are currently making their way to the scene and are expected to reach the ship this week.

Reports suggest the fire has been fueled by lithium-ion batteries on electric cars aboard the vessel. A malfunction with one of the batteries could also have caused the blaze, though this has to be confirmed.

Commenting on the incident, Suki Basi of Russell Group said: “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.” Basi added: “An event like this will not do a great deal in instilling trust with consumers.”

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Trevor Mogg
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