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VW in serious trouble after Porsche electric car allegedly burns down cargo ship

Volkswagen faces a pair of lawsuits in Germany over claims it was the battery in a Porsche electric vehicle that triggered the 2022 fire onboard a massive cargo ship that eventually sank with thousands of cars on board.

One of the suits was filed in a court in Stuttgart where VW’s Porsche unit is based.

The case was brought by half a dozen plaintiffs, including Mitsui OSK Lines, the ship’s operator, and Allianz, one of the insurers of the vessel, according to a spokesman for the tribunal.

The case was filed a year ago but was recently paused because of mediation talks planned for a second lawsuit over the ship that’s currently before a court in Braunschweig. Both cases will resume if no settlement can be reached.

A Braunschweig judge plans to hold the talks later this month, according to a tribunal spokesman.

Volkswagen confirmed the suits but declined to comment further. Mitsui didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment. Allianz declined to comment.

Electric Porsche Taycan

The Panama-flagged Felicity Ace caught fire near the Azores archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean two years ago and was left adrift after the crew was rescued.

An internal email from VW’s U.S. operations at the time revealed there were 3,965 vehicles aboard the ship. The cargo ship’s loss could have cost the automaker at least $155 million (R2.9 billion), according to a risk-modeling company’s estimate.

The plaintiffs claim that the fire originated from the lithium-ion battery of a Porsche model and allege VW failed to inform them of the danger and necessary precautions needed to transport such vehicles, according to the Stuttgart court.

Although the case was filed a year ago, the judges haven’t yet looked into the merits of the suit as the parties have been quarreling about the amount of collateral that must be posted before it can proceed.

The Stuttgart suit is: LG Stuttgart, 26 O 30/23. The Braunschweig case is: LG Braunschweig, 12 O 421/23.

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