The EV cargo from the burned-out Fremantle Highway car carrier is being offloaded, and officials are taking every safety precaution they can.
Lossen van beschadigd vrachtschip Fremantle Highway in de Eemshaven gaat door
The saga of the Fremantle Highway cargo ship is still ongoing, with the burned-out car carrier now docked and being unloaded slowly as salvage crews try to ascertain the damage levels while also trying to prevent further fires. A new video shows salvage crews offloading some of the 3,784 cars onboard, including what appears to be a Mercedes EQE Sedan (it could be an EQS; we dare you to try tell them apart from this far away), submerging it in a vat of water and covering it to ensure that any risk of thermal runaway is mitigate. It seems justified, as the charred EV sets the vat steaming, proving that while all looks OK on the surface, the battery is still smoldering away out of sight.
This has become the standard procedure for dealing with EV fires, with a Tesla Model S fire in 2021 requiring a whopping 30,000 gallons of water to extinguish it.
While it was initially understood that only 25 EVs were onboard – which were originally thought to be the source of the blaze – it later emerged that there were 498. Dutch authorities have not officially confirmed these EVs as the cause of the fire, but even if it didn’t start with them, they may have accelerated the blaze, which claimed the life of one crew member and left hundreds of vehicles reduced to steel and ash, including a variety of Porsche 911s, Taycans, Mini Coopers, BMWs, and Mercedes.
According to the video, approximately a thousand vehicles on the lower decks of the ship were undamaged, but the upper decks were left holocaust.
The video shows several undamaged vehicles, including Mercedes-EQ models, being craned off the ship and placed on terra firma. A Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class is later driven off the ship to join them, which begs the question of why ICE cars are being driven off while EVs are craned off. This again highlights the care being taken by the salvage crews who clearly don’t want to risk operating BEVs without knowing the extent of the damage to the batteries.
Instances like this have been at the center of the debate surrounding the safety of EVs. While they are statistically less prone to fires than ICE-powered cars, their fires are much harder to extinguish. OEMs like Porsche are working on solutions to help first responders accurately ascertain the risk of fire and danger, but such measures have not yet been rolled out.
The risks posed by EV fires have seen backlash from some shipping companies, who refused to transport them even prior to the Fremantle Highway disaster.