BMW Doesn't Want Cars Burned In Car Carrier To Go Up For Sale

The ship was carrying 3,000 cars – 25 of which were electric. - Photo: Flying Focus / ANP / AFP (Getty Images) (Getty Images)
The ship was carrying 3,000 cars – 25 of which were electric. - Photo: Flying Focus / ANP / AFP (Getty Images) (Getty Images)

The car carrier MV Fremantle Highway went up in flames in the North Sea last year, consuming thousands of brand new Mercedes, BMWs and Minis. Some of the cars on board were in good enough condition to be salvaged, reconditioned and sold, but BMW doesn’t seem to want anyone to buy those cars.

In summer 2023 the MV Fremantle Highway started its journey to Egypt from Germany with nearly 4,000 vehicles aboard. A fire that experts suspect was started by an EV battery malfunction, broke out offthe coast of The Netherlands, killing one of the 23 crew members.

After the fires were put out many of the vehicles were left in good condition. Good enough to sell, or so the insurance company thought. BMW blocked the sale, however, as the Drive reports:


Surprisingly, around a quarter of the 3,857 cars aboard were described as undamaged in Maritime Executive. A quarter of their number—260 BMWs to be precise—would be sold off by a Taiwanese insurance company, and their buyer would then resell the lot to a group of Dutch speculators according to The Northern Times. The Dutch group reportedly claims the cars are in good condition, having only gathered soot in the fire, and seeks to resell the salvaged vehicles. But BMW is having none of it.

The automaker reportedly filed a preliminary injunction in Dutch courts last December, claiming concerns over the cars’ safety and the risk of reputational damage if the cars are allowed to be sold. A company lawyer reportedly said that the cars were written off by insurance as a “total loss” and that they have damaged structural metal, wiring, and paint. They also reportedly claim that other intact vehicles salvaged from the ship, notably Audis and Mercedes-Benzes, were recycled rather than resold due to their condition.

So it could be that the car’s conditions are worse than what everyone was led to believe. The Dutch seem to really want the cars though. They’re willing to compromise with BMW and sell the cars outside of Europe because “automotive quality standards are less stringent” according to theNorthern Times. A court is expected to rule on whether or not the cars can be sold on July 15.

If you’re on the lookout and are interested in buying one of these cars, remember, buying vehicles damaged in situations like floods and fires can be risky business,even riskier if you find out about the damage much later.

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