- it’s still too early to know for sure how many vehicles were on board in total, but the car carrier sent out a distress call february 16 and had to be towed to the azores. all crew members on board have reportedly been rescued, and the data website fleetmon is updating the ship's status.
- according to people who claim to have ordered some of the porsches on board, the automaker is aware of the situation and is telling people to hold on for more information once porsche “know[s] the full scope of the issue.”
- this is also a bit of a flashback to 2019, when another ship caught fire with porsches on board. that ship sank, and porsche even restarted production for the small number of limited-edition porsche 911 gt2 rs cars that were lost.
update 2/18/22: around 1100 porsche vehicles, 189 bentley vehicles, and approximately 100 volkswagen golf r, gti, arteon, and id.4 vehicles were on the ship according to reports from automotive news and bloomberg.
update 2:35 p.m.: a porsche cars north america spokesperson sent car and driver the following statement: "our immediate thoughts are of relief that the 22 crew of the merchant ship felicity ace are safe and well. a number of our cars are among the cargo. we are in contact with the shipping company and the details of the cars on board are now known. customers affected by the incident are being contacted by their dealer. while it remains too early to confirm what occurred and next steps, we are—along with our colleagues at porsche ag—supporting our customers and our dealers as best we can to find solutions. anyone concerned by this incident and the implications on the car they've ordered should maintain in contact with [the] dealer with which their order was placed."
a spokesperson for lamborghini told c/d that the company is "aware of an incident involving a third-party cargo ship transporting volkswagen group vehicles across the atlantic. the vessel was on its way to north america. at this time, we are not aware of any injuries. we are in contact with the shipping company to get more information about the incident."
the ever given. the golden ray. every now and then, the name of an ocean freighter becomes important in the automotive world. the latest entry is the felicity ace, a car-carrier that was carrying an unspecified number of volkswagen group vehicles, including porsche models, from germany to rhode island. that was the ship's mission until yesterday, when a fire broke out on board. the flames were bad enough that the captain had to abandon ship, and we do not yet know the fate of the vehicles on board. details are coming in—we don't yet know the cause of the fire, for example—and more information will need to be confirmed by vw and other authorities to determine the cause and eventual result of this incident. here's what we know at the moment.
first, the good news. the roll-on-roll-off (roro) car carrier was around 90 nautical miles southwest of the azore islands when it issued its first distress signal on the morning of february 16. according to fleetmon, which tracks ocean vessels, all 22 crew members were safely evacuated from the ship by helicopter and lifeboat. the felicity ace has been towed to the azores, and ships from the portugal navy and other nearby vessels assisted with the rescue.
"we are aware of an incident today involving a cargo ship transporting volkswagen group vehicles across the atlantic,” vw told car and driver in a statement. "the vessel had a loading capacity of nearly 4000 vehicles and was on its way to north america. at this time, we are not aware of any injuries. we are working with local authorities and the shipping company to investigate the cause of the incident."
despite the 650-foot-long felicity ace's 4000-vehicle capacity, we do not yet know if it was full of cars or a mix of cars and other cargo. a statement posted to porsche's track your dream app, which allows people who have purchased a new porsche to follow their vehicle's journey from production facility to local dealership, and then on twitter by self-described "occasional auto/motorsport writer" zerin dube, makes it clear that some porsche buyers will need to wait longer than anticipated for their new cars.
"we are aware of an incident aboard the felicity ace, a specialized cargo ship carrying certain porsche vehicles," the statement said. "your dealership will provide you with additional information on how this impacts you as soon as we have additional information and know the full scope of the issue."
another automotive journalist, matt farah of the smoking tire, posted that his dealer let him know that the boxster spyder he ordered was on the ship and that everyone now has to wait to see how porsche will handle the situation. the drive quoted farah in an earlier news story about the incident.
there's history to suggest that porsche will make sure its customers will get the cars they ordered, since this isn't the first time porsche has had to deal with some of its vehicles not surviving their transoceanic journey. in 2019, the ship grande america caught fire and sank with four limited porsche 911 gt2 rs cars on board, along with 33 other porsches and 2000 or so brand-new audis that were on their way from germany to south america. porsche had already finished making any more of those limited-edition 911s, but it restarted production for the four gt2 rs buyers to keep its commitment to its customers willing to spend $300,000 on a car.
this is a developing story; we will update when we have more information.