Automakers are no stranger to supply chain issues — especially on the heels of the pandemic — but Volkswagen is facing a different kind of supply chain issue at the moment. Earlier this morning, news broke that the Felicity Ace, a cargo ship transporting around 4,000 VW vehicles – including the ID.4 as well as models from Porsche, Bentley and Lamborghini – sank off the coast of Portugal’s Azores Islands.
Earlier this month, the ship had caught fire during its trip across the Atlantic and, although the crew was safely evacuated, the ship continued to burn for days. In an attempt to minimize damage and contain the fire, boats sprayed water on the outside to try to cool the ship down, after which the Felicity Ace was returned to a “stable condition” to be towed back to Portugal. At the time, VW released the following statement:
“We fear that the fire on the ship has damaged a large number of the nearly 4,000 Group-brand vehicles to such an extent that they can no longer be delivered to customers. More detailed in-formation is not yet available. The ship’s cargo was destined for the American market. Brands and dealers have already begun informing their customers and finding individual solutions.
Volkswagen is very relieved that, according to reports from the shipowning company, no people were harmed in the fire and no oil spills were observed. The damage to the vehicles is covered by insurance. The shipowning company currently reports that there is no more smoke visible on the ship, a salvage team has now boarded the ship and tugs are towing the ship away.”
However, around 9am local time today, after the ship was relentlessly battered with waves, it was confirmed that the Felicity Ace sank.
Prior to this update, Electrek revealed an email received from VW confirming that some VW ID.4 electric SUVs that were on the ship were lost. Several customers reiterated this piece of news, receiving an email from their local VW dealer that informed them of the incident. “Getting you an ID/4 remains a top priority for us,” the email read. “We have already revised our production plan to put you at the front of the queue to receive a Model Year 2022 ID.4 which matches the config-uration in your reservation.”
It has yet to be confirmed how many vehicles were lost, but the entire value of the cargo ship is estimated at more than US$100 million. The cause of the fire has also yet to be discerned.