The ongoing investigation of faulty lithium-ion power packs on the new 787 Dreamliner could have implications far beyond the aerospace industry, some observers worrying that Boeing’s battery problems could short-circuit the nascent market for plug-ins, hybrids and other electrified automobiles.
Investigators in the U.S. and Japan have put a spotlight on the lithium backup power systems used on the new Boeing jet, linking the technology to several recent incidents, including a fire on one of the Dreamliners parked at a gate at Boston’s Logan field. Some observers are pointing to a series of fires involving the battery packs used in various electric vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt and Fisker Karma.
With the Boeing story getting a lot of airplay, “This is definitely an issue,” said Joe Phillippi, of AutoTrends Consulting. “This could be particularly bad timing,” the analyst cautioned, considering the push to increase sales of battery-based vehicles in the years ahead.