Norwegian shipping company Havila Kystruten recently announced that it will no longer carry electric cars, hydrogen cars and hybrid cars on trips on its passenger ships.
The company mainly carries passengers and goods, but now says it will only carry private vehicles that have internal combustion engines. Havila Krystruten cited fire hazard as the main reason for her decision.
Will this practice of the Norwegian company be followed by other shipping companies? If you want to transport lithium batteries you will find that international and state regulations are extremely strict as lithium batteries are treated as hazardous materials or products (Hazardous Materials or Hazardous Goods).
If the batteries catch fire, extinguishing it is an extremely difficult process. Firefighters, in an open environment, simply sit and watch it from afar, driving people away because of the toxic atmosphere that is created.
It is forbidden to pour water or foam into such a fire as it will then create an explosion. Lithium loves neither water nor foam. For lithium and its storage, the ILO reports: “Separated from strong oxidants, acids, halons and other incompatible materials” (here). The conditions in the garage of a ship if such a fire starts will be tragic: the fire is not extinguished.
But what happens from now on? What will happen in the summers with the high temperatures that develop in the garages of passenger ships in which there will be 3, 4, 5, and 50 electric cars? Is there a risk to passengers? If so, how big is he? And most importantly: is this risk manageable?
Also, let’s not forget the human factor, a key component in every accident: who guarantees that the X driver will have carried out the necessary service in his electric car so as not to cause a short circuit or damage on board?
These are some very important questions that should be solved immediately since safety during the transport of products or people comes first. So far there are no reactions from other shipping companies on this issue but we should definitely expect many developments since electric vehicles are growing at a rapid pace.