Shipping giant MOL confirms it has stopped transporting used electric vehicles for safety reasons

The Azalea Ace unloads Honda cars at Nelson;  used electric vehicles are no longer allowed on board.

Martin de Ruyter / Stuff

The Azalea Ace unloads Honda cars at Nelson; used electric vehicles are no longer allowed on board.

One of the world’s largest car transport companies, Mitsui OSK Lines, has confirmed that it has suspended the transport of used electric vehicles on its freighters.

Lindsay Routhan, owner of car dealership Specialty Vehicles Japan, warned on Sunday that it could become impossible to import used electric vehicles into New Zealand if other shipping companies follow suit.

Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) owns 110 car transporters, including the Felicity Ace which sank in the mid-Atlantic with its cargo of 4,000 luxury cars on March 1 after a massive fire fueled by lithium batteries in electric vehicles he had on board.

Atsushi Hara, a Japanese MOl spokesperson, confirmed that its new policy only applied to second-hand fully electric vehicles and not hybrid vehicles, and clarified that it had “nothing to do with the incident on Felicity Ace”.

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“The number of used electric vehicles that we carry has increased recently, so we have decided to review our standards for acceptance of used vehicles and have decided to suspend the acceptance of the reservation of electric vehicles for the time being. second-hand battery,” Hara said.

MOL performs safety checks on conventional petrol and diesel cars before boarding ensuring they can move under their own power and visually inspecting them for leaks.

But it was difficult to check the condition of used electric vehicles, he said.

MOL’s car transporters can be identified by the fact that they all have “Ace” in their name and some are regular visitors to New Zealand ports.

Vehicle Importers Association chief executive David Vincent was unaware of MOL’s policy when first contacted on Monday, but said he did not believe MOL had shipped many used cars in New Zealand.

Mark Gilbert, president of electric vehicle industry body Drive Electric, also thought importers would have plenty of alternatives.

It was a little strange that MOL suspended shipment of used electric vehicles, given that electric vehicles were “now circulating all over the world”, he said.

“If they don’t want to do it, someone else will,” he said.

Routhan believed that MOL transported a large proportion of all cars imported into New Zealand.

But MOL’s Auckland office did not confirm this or comment on the likely impact of the policy change on the used electric vehicle market in New Zealand, saying only its Japan headquarters were authorized to comment.

Routhan said that once a shipping company introduces a change of this nature, others tend to follow.

He expected the Felicity Ace disaster to also lead to new safety protocols and higher insurance premiums for shipping new electric vehicles, which would raise their price in countries like New Zealand.