Salvage crews have entered. Here's what they're finding.
Fire crews have largely managed to contain the flames and intense smoke that engulfed the now-abandoned Felicity Ace container ship. Currently afloat in the Atlantic Ocean, the ship's 22-member crew was forced to evacuate following a fire that broke out several days ago. The good news is that they're okay and no oil spills were observed. What's not so good is that the Volkswagen Group had as many as 4,000 new vehicles onboard. Their status remained unknown until now.
Automotive News reports that salvage crews received the green light to enter the ship to assess the damage. Early reports are claiming it's not looking good. "We fear that the fire on the ship has damaged a large number of the nearly 4,000 Group-brand vehicles to such an extent that they can no longer be delivered to customers," the automaker said. "More detailed information is not yet available."
The vehicles stored in the cargo hold consisted of high-priced and limited production models like the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS, the last examples of the Lamborghini Aventador, and plenty of other VWs, Audis, and Bentleys. All were bound to US customers. VW Group won't know exactly how to proceed until a full damage assessment becomes available and that could take several more days.
According to at least one estimate, the ship's fire could cost the automaker around $155 million. There's an estimated total vehicle value of $401 million on board. Lamborghini is already preparing for the worst. It's reaching out to suppliers to gauge the possibility of obtaining replacing parts to replace those final Aventadors. There are still plenty of more questions than answers at the moment.
What made the fire worse was the difficulty in extinguishing it due to rough sea conditions. Tugboats sprayed the ship with water to try to cool it down. It eventually worked but why did it take so long? Part of the reason might involve the electric vehicles onboard.
Remember, EVs are powered by lithium-ion batteries which are notorious for being difficult to cool down in a fire. This is a general concern firefighters and safety authorities have with all EVs. More detailed information should become available in the coming days. Until then, VW Group and anxious owners should try to be patient and let the salvage crew do its job.