The cargo ship that caught fire last week carrying about 4,000 Volkswagen Group vehicles could cost the automaker at least $155 million, according to one consultant's estimate.
Of the roughly $438 million total value of goods aboard the Felicity Ace, which went up in flames off the coast of Portugal's Azores Islands, Russell Group said Monday it estimates there are $401 million worth of cars.
VW, Porsche, Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini models were on the vessel.
A VW spokesperson declined to comment on the matter Monday.
A spokeswoman for BMW Group said none of the company's vehicles are on board, while a Mercedes-Benz spokesman said the automaker isn't aware of any of its vehicles being on the ship.
Mitsui OSK Lines, the operator of Felicity Ace, said on its website that two large tugs with firefighting equipment were expected to arrive Monday morning local time to start spraying water together with an initial salvage team that was on board already to cool down the ship.
No oil leakage has been confirmed and the vessel remains stable, the transport company said.
Russell Group is modeling the total value of vehicles on board, so its loss projections assume all vehicles are lost, according to a spokesman.
The consultant estimates auto companies other than VW may have lost about $246 million worth of vehicles.
VW has not disclosed its potential losses from the fire aboard the crippled Felicity Ace and it is unclear how much insurance will cover the costs for the lost vehicles.
Of the 4,000 vehicles, 1,100 of them are Porsches. The rest of the vehicles are from the VW brand, Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini, according to various reports.
"The lost Porsche vehicles alone, which we assume are 1,100 vehicles including many customized high-end models, would exceed $140 million. We further anticipate salvage costs in excess of $150 million," Anderson's report said. "Similar disasters in the recent past suggests total losses for this incident may not be realized for a year or more and could be far above the value of the lost cargo."
"Given that the ship continues to burn, no crew is onboard, and suspected lithium fires have been confirmed, we now estimate that nearly all of the vehicles are irreparably damaged and will not be saleable in the U.S. market. We note that these vehicles have experienced fire, smoke, and water damage, and they risk being submerged in salt water, as well. Today’s report that the fires are ebbing included the telling explanation that there was probably little combustible material left to burn."
Future shipping risks
Anderson's report also raised questions about future risks of shipping EVs.
"This incident underscores another safety warning about electric vehicles," the report said. "EVs rely on very large batteries with unusual fire risks.
"The Felicity Ace, built in 2005, undoubtedly carried fire suppression equipment in the cargo hold. Nonetheless, reports from the scene indicate that smoke from the burning vehicles overwhelmed the crew’s ability to suppress the fire, resulting in the ship’s rapid abandonment...
"We do not yet know whether the EV batteries caused the fire, or if they were ignited with the rest of the ship. In either case, the dire situation demonstrates a need to make potentially expensive safety investments to handle a future of extensive EV deliveries."
Philip Nussel contributed