January 26, 2023: Norwegian shipping company, Havila Kystruten announced on January 12 that it is banning electric cars, hybrids and hydrogen vehicles on its ferries because of a potential fire hazard. This follows a risk analysis conducted by Proactima, a Norwegian risk management advisory consultancy, according to chief executive Bent Martini.
The ferries operate along the coast from Kirkenes in the far north of Norway to Bergen in the south.
Historically, one in three electric vehicles fires has occurred with ‘no obvious cause’ while the car was parked, according to a 2021 report by research consultancy IdTechEx. https://www.batteriesinternational.com/2021/08/12/one-in-three-ev-fires-are-parked-vehicles-with-no-obvious-cause/
The startling figures show that 17% of EV fires occur in regular driving and a quarter occur when charging.
While electric vehicles do not pose a greater fire hazard than regular cars, their fires are more difficult to put out. They require a considerably larger amount of water to extinguish. While a burning petrol or diesel vehicle may need 1,600 to2,000 litres of water to be put out, a fire in an EV often requires as much as 11,000 litres, mainly to cool down the burningbattery.
In April 2021 a fatal EV crash in Texas took more than four hours and 30,000 gallons (110,000 litres) of water to extinguish, according to firefighters at the scene.
Worries over the high risk of electric cars catching alight on board ships were brought to the fore last February with the fire and subsequent sinking of the Felicity Ace. Its cargo of 3,965 EVs was the suspected cause of the incident.
There is a certain irony in the move given that Norway has the largest number of EVs per capita in the world and some80% of new registrations are EVs.
Other ferry companies have yet to follow suit. TT-Line, which operates between Sweden, Lithuania, Poland and Germany installs charging stations for electric vehicles on board its ships.