500 million euros insurance damage: With the sinking of the burning car transporter "Felicity Ace" in February 2022, thousands of luxury vehicles also sank into the sea
Photo: PORTUGUESE NAVY / via REUTERS
"Electric, hybrid and hydrogen cars are prohibited on board" - the explosive statement is hidden in the FAQ of the Norwegian shipping line Havila Kystruten.
This ban is likely to be unique worldwide and is particularly surprising in a country like Norway, which is actually considered a pioneer in electromobility - the proportion of electric cars in new passenger car registrations was almost 80 percent in 2022, and according to political guidelines all should be banned by 2025 New cars can be on the road without emissions.
The shipping company Havila will soon be sailing along the coast of Northern Norway with a total of four ships.
This so-called mail boat route is not only popular with tourists, together with the competitor Hurtigruten AS, Havila also operates a significant part of the domestic passenger and freight traffic here.
The small shipping company with around 350 employees is listed on the stock exchange, but has problems.
After an operating loss of around 10 million euros in the first half of 2022, it carried out a capital increase at the end of December.
Shipping company boss
According to a report by the shipping news service "TradeWinds", cites safety concerns as the reason for this decision against the future transport of electric, hybrid or hydrogen cars.
During a risk analysis, those responsible came to the conclusion that the possible fire of such a car would require a particularly complex rescue operation, which could not be accomplished with the means and the crew on board - the passengers would be endangered as a result.
However, this is different for private vehicles with a conventional, fossil drive.
These can still be taken off the ships in certain ports such as Bergen or Kirkenes.
Here, a possible fire from vehicles on board could usually be fought well with the strength and resources of the ship's crew,
Sinking of the "Felicity Ace" as a reminder
The risks of transporting electric cars on ships had come into focus worldwide at the latest with the spectacular disaster of the "Felicity Ace".
In February 2022, electric vehicles apparently caught fire on the car carrier.
The fire could not be extinguished at the time, and the entire ship sank - including thousands of electric vehicles and luxury cars from Porsche and Bentley, which have since been lying more than 3,000 meters below the water surface near the Portuguese Azores.
"In general, electronic components and especially electric vehicles represent a risk for every transport," said
Manfred Santen at the time
, chemist in the marine protection team at the environmental organization Greenpeace, in an interview with manager magazin.
Because of the high energy of charged batteries, any resulting fires are difficult to extinguish.
In response to the "Felicity Ace" fire, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced that it would tighten corresponding fire protection regulations worldwide.
New car transporters should be equipped with heat detectors and video surveillance, and ships already in service should be retrofitted accordingly.
The ships of the Havila shipping company are anything but pure car freighters.
But when it comes to safety, the shipping company is taking a significant step by forgoing the transport of electric cars for the time being.
It is interesting that the ships themselves have large battery packs on board so that they can also run on electricity at certain times.
According to the shipping company, these packs are installed in particularly isolated and fireproof rooms on board.