VW faces pair of lawsuits over claim Porsche EV battery sparked ship fire

STUTTGART: Volkswagen AG faces a pair of lawsuits in Germany over claims it was the battery in a Porsche electric vehicle that triggered the 2022 fire onboard a massive cargo ship that eventually sank with thousands of cars on board.

One of the suits was filed in a court in Stuttgart where VW’s Porsche unit is based.

The case was brought by half a dozen plaintiffs, including Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd., the ship’s operator, and Allianz SE, one of the insurers of the vessel, according to a spokesman for the tribunal.

The case was filed a year ago but was recently paused because of mediation talks planned for a second lawsuit over the ship’s that’s currently before a court in Braunschweig.

Both cases will resume if no settlement can be reached.

A Braunschweig judge plans to hold the talks later this month, according to a tribunal spokesman.

READ MORE: So you lost your Porsche on a burning ship. Now what?

Volkswagen confirmed the suits but declined to comment further.

Mitsui didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment. Allianz declined to comment.

The Panama-flagged Felicity Ace caught fire near the Azores archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean two years ago and was left adrift after the crew was rescued.

An internal email from VW’s US operations at the time revealed there were 3,965 vehicles aboard the ship. The cargo ship’s loss could have cost the automaker at least US$155 million (RM733mil), according to a risk-modelling company’s estimate.

The plaintiffs claim that the fire originated from the lithium-ion battery of a Porsche model (Porsche only had one electric car at the time in the Taycan range) and allege VW failed to inform them of the danger and necessary precautions needed to transport such vehicles, according to the Stuttgart court.

Although the case was filed a year ago, the judges haven’t yet looked into the merits of the suit as the parties have been quarreling about the amount of collateral that must be posted before it can proceed.
Autos Porsche