No fan of electric vehicles likes to see the words “lithium-ion” and “fire” in the same sentence, but thanks to the recent fiasco of battery packs being identified as the possible cause of fire on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, that’s just what the headlines have been saying. A thorough investigation of the model’s systems is still under way, but the batteries have now been more or less cleared as the cause. But help, which nobody asked, for is on the way from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who tweeted on January 18th “Maybe already under control, but Tesla & SpaceX are happy to help with the 787 lithium ion batteries.” Which was followed up on the 26th with “Desire to help Boeing is real & am corresponding w 787 chief engineer.”
Boeing has declined to comment on any collaboration or even if said correspondences are actually taking place. It would seem odd that a giant like Boeing, which has been in the airplane business for nearly 100 years, would want to take advice from a relative upstart whose means of offering help was to simply generate further bad publicity. It would be extra strange when you consider that Musk openly mocked Boeing in an interview with Esquire last year, saying that they “put the zero in being”. Musk has since claimed that the magazine made up the quote, but only after making the first offer of help.
As Reuters reports, the batteries in the 787 use similar chemistry to those in the Tesla Roadster, which debuted in 2008. Giving Musk the benefit of the doubt, we’ll assume that this was indeed his motivation for offering help, to clear the name of lithium-ion battery-powered vehicles.