Electric and hybrid cars are not allowed on ferries. The first carrier bans the transport of electricians

  • The shipowner is concerned that in the event of a fire in an electric car on board, the crew will not be able to cope with the firefighting operation without outside support

  • The ban on the transport of electric and hybrid cars was introduced after a risk analysis carried out by an external company

  • The ferry, which is not allowed to be driven by electric cars, has giant batteries on board that allow it to cruise in electric mode for several hours

Nobody expected this! The first airline to announce that it is suspending boarding of electric vehicles for safety reasons is the Norwegian carrier Havila Kystruten. This is all the more strange, because not only is Norway the first European country where far more electric cars are sold than combustion vehicles, but the shipowner himself has so far been widely discussed in the context of promoting ecological drives .

Havila Kystruten’s Havila Capella has been awarded the Next Generation Ship Award, including for a unique, low-emission hybrid drive consisting of engines powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas) coupled with an electric drive powered by giant batteries weighing 86 tons and with a capacity of 6.1 megawatt hours, which allow for several hours of emission-free cruises.

They banned electric and hybrid cars on the hybrid ferry

Perhaps it was because of these technical solutions (huge gas supply and gigantic batteries) that the carrier decided to limit the risk – only vehicles with internal combustion engines are to be allowed on board.

According to reports quoted from by the specialized service maritime-executive.com, the shipowner, based on risk analyzes performed by an external company (Proactima AS), decided that the crew could deal with a potential fire of a diesel-powered car carried on board using the means available on board, but it was in the event of an electric car fire, effective firefighting would require outside help, and such a fire would pose a serious risk to both the ship and its passengers.

The carrier points out that its ships are equipped with the latest fire extinguishing systems, but even these may prove insufficient in such cases. It was also indicated that although the ships are also equipped with traction batteries, they are installed in fire-resistant rooms isolated from the environment and equipped with additional fire-fighting devices.

Conclusions after the fire and sinking of the car carrier – insurers warn

The stimulus for the preparation of risk analyzes related to the sea transport of electric cars and their batteries was undoubtedly the gigantic fire of the Felicity Ace car carrier at the beginning of 2022, loaded with thousands of cars, including electric vehicles. The fire of the ship could not be controlled, the unit sank near the Azores archipelago.

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The potential risks associated with the transport of electric vehicles were also highlighted by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, which analyzed damages in maritime transport reported over the last 5 years. The Allianz report shows that ship fires are an increasing problem, and the transport of lithium-ion batteries, whether mounted in vehicles or separately, is a factor that increases the risk and, above all, makes it difficult to extinguish a possible fire.

Attention! This does not mean that electric vehicles burn more often than combustion cars – the available statistics show that the risk of fire in the case of such cars is much lower. The problem, however, is that such fires are much more difficult to put out than fires of combustion cars – the firefighting action lasts many times longer, and larger amounts of extinguishing agents are also needed.

Some forbid, others mount chargers on board

While Havila ferries have banned the transport of electric vehicles, charging stations for electric vehicles are installed on TT-Line vessels sailing between Sweden, Lithuania, Poland and Germany! so-called TT-Line’s “Green Ships” are equipped with 32 Wallboxes that can charge cars with 40 kW (direct current) or 11 kW (alternating current) power during cruises.

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