Important Safety Warning: Possible Fire Risk With Torqeedo Outboard Motor Batteries “Travel” and “Ultralight”

15 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Please don’t freak out, fellow Torqeedo outboard owners! My sense is that ultra safety conscious Torqeedo is reacting to a very small number of unusual battery failures in the most proactive way possible. I’m into year 8 with a Travel 1003 battery, see them in use on other small boats nearly every day, and have written about them for years… but I’ve never once heard of a Travel or Ultralite battery catching on fire or bursting.

    Also, I checked my old Travel battery today, it does fall within the serial code band, and after going to the http://www.torqeedo.com/safety site linked to above, I got a quick and nice response. They’re even willing to ship a hazmat box so I can return the battery properly, and apparently they’re going to call with a special upgrade offer. But I’m not in a hurry as I deeply doubt I have much to worry about with the motor I use almost every day at this time of year.

    However, I am curious about this and other Lithium-Ion boat battery safety issues, and I hope to speak with Torqeedo CEO Christof Ballin soon. Don’t hesitate with questions you think should be asked.

    • beef jerky says:

      My battery caught on FIRE ! Yes, that’s right. I put some sterno and gasoline on it thinking i could burn the dirt off as we ran out of spray cleaner. at first the sterno and gas caught on fire then the battery did to…. just shocking,,,, maybe this is safer to do with propane powered outboards, we will try that

  2. Beth says:

    A woman reported that her battery caught on fire last winter. I was rather alarmed, as I have two of them in my basement and I was 1500 miles away in the Bahamas at the time. I will be checking the serial numbers tonight…

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Thanks, Beth. Did she mention if the battery had been submerged at any time, maybe in saltwater? They are designed to be waterproof but apparently that’s the point of possible failure, though I gather it takes a few other factors to actually cause fire.

  3. Well, that’s interesting.. I registered our battery, we will see what they want us to do. But I don’t think we’re going to ship off our outboard in the middle of our summer cruising season ;). Maybe when we’re in the Chesapeake this October we can trundle them down to Hartge, who did the most excellent service on our motor last year.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      I feel the same way, Hartley, and emailed Torqeedo that when they responded to my battery warning registration. And I just got this reply, which is reassuring as my battery has never been submerged and it’s been about a year since I slightly dipped its back end into the harbor when hauling my dinghy onto a float:

      “There is a risk in particular if a leaky battery becomes completely or partially submerged under water, so that more water can penetrate into the battery housing. If you can rule out that your battery has come into contact with water over recent months, you can continue to use it until it can be checked. If you are not sure, the battery should be checked first before you use it again. In this case, it must be checked as quickly as possible.”

      • I’m pretty sure I entered everything correctly, but Torqueedo hasn’t responded to my registration at all. Maybe I should try again?

        • And I did so – I note they say they will respond within 48 hours, so I must have botched the email address the first time 🙁 I note they ask for your address – which in our case isn’t where we are any more – and there isn’t any place to add comments. Hopefully their response will allow us to tell them where we (and our batteries) REALLY are :).

  4. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I got a call today from Torqeedo USA in Crystal Lake, IL, and they are offering me a $279 discount toward a new $999 915 Watt-hour battery in lieu of sending my old 533 Wh battery in for testing. The discount deal is not available for the lower Wh replacement battery, but then again my early 2011 battery is beyond the suggested expiration date printed on the serial number label. So I’m not complaining!

    I gather that this discount program will vary in different countries) because different distributors are involved, but if you’re in the U.S. with a Travel or Ultralight battery that’s under the safety notice you’ll likely get an offer like this after you register, better if your battery is newer.

    • Howard says:

      I got the same offer a couple of weeks ago. My battery is from mid 2011 and reached its date this month. I accepted the trade in offer, they sent me a box to return the battery. It was picked up by a freight company on Monday.

    • We got a similar offer – and now we’re torn 🙂 It’s a great deal, and the new battery has more capacity, but it isn’t low cost and our existing pair of 2014 batteries are working fine. We used to carry both with us, but now we don’t bother unless we’re going a very long way. Crunch time is next week, as we’ll be in a stable enough location to ship out our olde ones if we want to.

  5. Charles Freeman says:

    Battery recall: My battery is in the range covered by the recall you reported earlier. FYI, that “Safety” website link doesn’t work, and there are no hits using their search function for “recall”. I just sent an email to their customer service to find out what’s going on.

  6. We just got our two batteries back from the inspection process – they sent me an email and told me one of them was OK – but since they sent both back, I assume they’re both ok 🙂
    The Torqueedo office handling this has some serious glitches – after I told them the last week of September that I was going to be in Annapolis for a few weeks and gave them the address, I got no response – for a month — then I started getting calls from a freight company looking to pick them up! (in Annapolis, where we weren’t anymore). So I sent them an email and they confessed to having issues – so I gave them my Florida address. They then shipped two empty boxes to Annapolis!
    Folks with a nice, stable address won’t have this problem, of course..

    But the boxes eventually showed up and I shipped ’em in – it took a week for turnaround, so pretty good response. The boxes, however, did not do well – both had the internal cardboard support collapse, likely because the boxes were dropped in shipment. I would suggest adding a couple blocks of Styrofoam or similar to augment the cardboard rib top & bottom.

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