Norwegian shipping company Havila Kystruten has banned electric vehicles (EVs) on its ships, raising concerns among shipping and ferry companies about EV transport.
According to GoAutoNews Premium, the risk of EV fire is “too severe,” and thermal runaway (overheating) in batteries can start a chain reaction that is difficult to contain.
Taking to Norwegian media outlet NRK, Havila Kystruten’s Head of Communications Lasse A. Vangstein stated:
An electric car fire gets very hot, and there may be a risk of explosion where toxic gases will be released. This can mean that you have to evacuate the ship immediately and in the worst case you can have a total breakdown of the ship.
According to the report, Watson Farley & Williams partner Mike Phillips also voiced his concern regarding the issue. He stated:
Although it is not clear whether EVs are more likely than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to catch fire, it is common ground that the consequences are potentially more disastrous and more difficult to handle. The component materials of the batteries mean that the fires are very energetic and traditional firefighting techniques do not necessarily work. This will differentiate the risk of EVs from ICE cars when carried on board ships.
To reduce weight and fire safety, vehicles with internal combustion engines are transported with minimal fuel. EVs with a high state of charge (SoC) cannot be siphoned before boarding the cargo.
For fire safety, lithium-ion batteries should be transported at a low SoC and away from heat sources. Higher SoC batteries are more likely to ignite and burn violently.
In this regard, Phillips stated:
With an increased use of EVs, ferry companies will see greater numbers carried on their fleets. This may represent an even higher risk, given that the vehicles will be a variety of ages and in a variety of charge states.