Auto carrier ship burning off Holland now reported to have had nearly 500, not 25 electric vehicles on board

The saga of the Fremantle Highway, a special purpose auto carrier ship that has been on fire off Holland for almost a week, killing at least one crew member, now raises even deeper suspicions about the role of lithium ion batteries, used in electric cars, as a source and aggravating factor in the blaze.  In a report published here on AT five days ago, we cited reporting from CBS News that as many as 25 electric vehicles may have been among the more than 3,000 cars being transported from Germany to Egypt.  Now comes news that 20 times more battery-powered vehicles were on board, via The Truth About Cars:

Photo credit: Netherlands Coast Guard.

An enormous vehicle carrier that caught fire at sea earlier this week appears to have far more electric vehicles on board than first suggested.

This ship, christened the Fremantle Highway, was first reported aflame off the Dutch coast a couple of days ago. Initial information hinted there were at least 25 EVs on its manifest and that the conflagration likely began at or near one of those cars. Now, reports are surfacing that there could be nearly five hundred electric cars in the ship's hold, a realization that adds a lot more gravitas to a situation that has already claimed the life of one person and injured scores of others.

A spokesperson for the vessel's charter told Automotive News their records show 3,783 vehicles in total aboard the ship, about a thousand more than first reported, including 498 battery-electric vehicles. 

While this is not conclusive evidence that lithium ion batteries were at fault in the fire, it does raise the odds considerably.  And the larger number of batteries involved potentially makes the fire that much more difficult to extinguish, since they burn at a very high temperature and are difficult to put out.

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