Animats
I'm not too happy about very large lithium ion batteries as a mass market product in low-end vehicles. Lithium iron phosphate, which doesn't have the thermal runaway problem but stores less energy per kilogram, may be more appropriate there. Both BYD and Tesla are going that route at the low end.

Light electric vehicles (bikes, scooters, skateboards) are now causing a sizable number of fires in NYC.[1] It's mostly a battery quality problem, apparently. FDNY reported 28 battery fires in 2019, 44 in 2020, and 104 in 2021. Bike and scooter shop fires tend to result in multiple batteries cooking off.

One thing would stop much of this: making Amazon criminally responsible for selling power electrical devices which do not have verifiable UL certification.

[1] https://www.firerescue1.com/fdny/articles/fdny-massive-fire-...

blenderdt
This article is not about if EVs are safe. It's about the fact that putting out a fire when batteries are involved is hard.

Every week there is a fire on a cargo ship. Most are not caused by the cargo. But when the cargo catches fire you want to be able to put it out before the whole ships turns into scrap.

boundlessdreamz
They say not securing the cars properly can cause impacts that cause fire. But these cars are impact tested for passenger safety. The only vulnerability for the battery pack will be a bottom impact which should not occur on Roll on-Roll Off Carrier.

Ships do need to adapt their firefighting process for Lithium-Ion batteries. But I'm not convinced about impacts causing fire.

montanalow
This article is pure speculation by an insurance company that isn’t involved, and admit they have no idea what happened. FUD.
robocat
Can the risks of battery fires be deeply reduced if the batteries have a very low charge when transported?
throwaway290
Tangentially, I wonder about the environmental impacts of a container full of large Li-ion batteries, such as those found in electric cars, lost in the sea. Cargo ships are known to dump containers* (and oil**, incidentally) into oceans.

* https://therevelator.org/container-ship-accidents/

** https://www.dw.com/en/exclusive-cargo-ships-dumping-oil-into...

sunstone
If it's safe to ship tons of LNG on big ships there's almost certainly a way to ship batteries safely. It might take a few 'incidents' though before best practise becomes clear.
lnsru
Since the normal container ships often have many refrigerated containers and the crew manage to control their temperature. Maybe roro ship crews will get access to the battery temperature data and will be able to prepare suspicious cars for offloading straight into ocean. Loosing few cars is probably better than whole shop with thousand cars.
mytailorisrich
This boils down to safety of battery EVs.

Indeed, soon they will be everywhere. Think not only of cargo ships but of traffic, rows of parked cars, whole carparks, etc.

In this case, the change is that was probably considered an inert cargo (cars) will now have be considered a potentially hazardous cargo perhaps requiring extra safety measures.

cratermoon
Is it currently safe to ship mass numbers of electric cars, under the current safety standards? Probably not. Should those standards and expectations be updated and refined to address the changing nature of hazardous cargo? Absolutely.
kkfx
I think it's not much different than shipping refined petrol or LPG... The main issue is always the need of transports, unless we can scale toward mass distributed small productions to built as much as possible locally so to avoid the scale of eventual accidents, not much differently than the concept of coming back from big ships to smaller one for petrol, hyper-giant plane trend to smaller ones etc

Accidents/incidents can always happen but at smaller scale means smaller issues...

tlb
Can ships not afford a satellite uplink for continuous telemetry? Compared to the $1000s/hr of diesel they burn, the data can't cost much.
hedora
Say we burn and sink ten of these barges per year out on the open ocean.

How much environmental damage could that possibly cause vs. acidification from dissolved CO2?

(It would be good to reduce the number of barges that sink and also address global warming, of course!)

aurizon
A ship at sea can have a cloud repository of data etc, immediately available, not 10,000 feet underwater as well as no data loss. Good job for a mobile Starlink the monthly cost is trivial compared with the annual budget
jrockway
Do lithium batteries contain an oxidizer? Is an inert atmosphere enough?
almost_usual
Has there been a large earthquake yet in an EV dense area? That will be interesting.
badrabbit
One more reason to make car batteries replacable instead of rechargable only.
flimflamm
Yes
lizardactivist
I say it's safe. Volkswagen group should definitely ship more cars on big ships, and if their ship catches fire again, then they should stop beating about and call it what it at that point is: sabotage.
oxplot
> As the world quickly switches to electric cars, how are we going to get them from factories to showrooms, especially when they have to cross oceans?

Pick the phone up and call Tesla logistics department. They’ll fill you right in.

mirekrusin
Can they ship them without batteries?
amaajemyfren
Fuel literally burns and it is carried by ship - I believe there is a way to safely ferry them in ships.
riaandewit
So, don’t ship cars then. Tweak cities for micro mobility and walking.

Also: a couple of burned and sunk ships is a much cheaper price to pay than climate change. If the cost of the odd lithium fire is a lot, wait till you factor in the costs of the emissions of an ICE over the vehicle lifetime.

This reeks of FUD during the death throes of the petrochemical industry, tbh.