On 16 February, a Panama-flagged car carrier caught fire about 90 nautical miles southwest of the Azores in the Atlantic. The Felicity Ace was on passage from Germany to the US, carrying brand new Volkswagen Group vehicles. There’s no detailed information regarding the number of vehicles and their specific brands and models, though early estimates suggest the loss from the accident could be as high as $335 million (£247 million).
Volkswagen Group dealers in the United States are currently contacting customers whose vehicles were onboard the car carrier. Cars from Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Bentley, and Lamborghini were reportedly carried to North America from Germany, though the massive fire likely means most of them are completely destroyed. This is surely bad news for the automaker as it is already facing serious difficulties in supplies causing production disruptions.
"It's going to cause us even more shipping delays because we now have one less transport vessel," a Porsche dealer from suburban Philadelphia told Automotive News. In order to compensate a customer for an expected four-month delay in the delivery of his brand new Cayenne, the dealer had to upgrade the vehicle to the Platinum trim at no cost. “The Platinum is more expensive than the original order. But we are keeping the pricing the same for the customer."
The Felicity Ace was carrying both combustion and electric vehicles but the cause for the fire remains unknown for now. An official press release from yesterday, issued on a special website, claims “there is no oil leakage confirmed from the vessel, and the stability of the vessel remains stable.” One salvage craft with towing capability is on passage and the salvage crew hopes to get aboard today to hook up a tow line. Another salvage ship is scheduled to arrive on 26 February.