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Conversion Fire: Batteries Still Intact; Investigation Continues

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  • Felix Kramer
    Here s what we ve found out so far about the fire in Ron s converted Prius and how to donate. On a second topic, we re also including a pointer to a new
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 12, 2013
      Here's what we've found out so far about the fire in Ron's converted
      Prius and how to donate. On a second topic, we're also including a
      pointer to a new article we co-authored to encourage
      environmentally-minded people to buy plug-in cars.

      (Shortly after it goes out on email, this posting will also be
      viewable at http://www.calcars.org/news-archive.html -- there you can
      add CalCars-News to your RSS feed.)

      THANKS for all the notes of sympathy and support. Ron continues to
      respond to CalCars-related issues and topics (especially involving
      batteries); he works at an energy startup; and now he and Lynne
      McAllister need to recover from the major damage to their house, well
      beyond what insurance will pay, is a major burden.

      TO CONTRIBUTE: You can go to http://www.PayPal.com (even if you don't
      have a PayPal account, you can use a credit card) and send money to
      gremban@... -- many thanks in advance.

      WHY IT'S "GREEN" TO BUY A NEW PLUG-IN CAR: When mass-produced plug-in
      cars hit the market, we expected environmentalists to be among the
      early adopters, given the immediate and long-term climate and energy
      security benefits of driving electric. We found that most were
      inclined to wait, thinking that was the greenest thing to do. We
      think if their concerns are answered, environmentalists could be
      charged up about getting rid of their gas-guzzlers.

      We recently co-authored an article, "Good and Green Reasons to
      Consider an Electric Car this Year," with Max Baumhefner, Sustainable
      Energy Fellow and attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
      You can read and comment at
      and also at
      . Please send it around!

      BONUS TALKING POINTS on this subject that didn't make it into the
      short article:
      * You know the saying, "give away the razor, sell the blades?" In
      terms of energy used, that's how cars work. It's a secret for most
      people that the energy "embedded" in manufacturing is usually well
      below 25% of the total energy a car uses in its lifetime! (This is
      also a reason why we hope companies start, sooner, not later, to
      provide safe, affordable, certified conversions of gasoline-powered
      vehicles to EV and PHEV.)
      * If you take mass transit, bike, or walk everywhere except for a
      short trip once a week, you could justify keeping a clunker. But if
      you think you're destined to make the switch eventually, you might be
      smart to trade up sooner. And when you do upgrade, know that while
      someone else drives your old car, you're getting companies and
      suppliers in Michigan or Tennessee or Europe or Asia to build fewer
      gas-guzzlers and more plug-ins.

      BACK TO RON'S CAR: WHAT HAPPENED: Here are Ron's reports about the
      findings so far for the fire described at
      http://www.calcars.org/calcars-news/1159.html . As we mentioned then,
      this car has been the test-bed for multiple conversions and battery
      projects -- so it is a considerable distance from the car as it was
      originally produced.

      MARCH 8: I was with the fire investigator today. With a saw and
      crowbar, he removed the rear deck cover over the battery. We found
      the battery intact -- and it appeared fine. A cable still drew sparks
      when brushed against the vehicle's frame. There will be a more
      thorough analysis in a warehouse over the next two months or so.

      MARCH 12: It has occurred to me that because the conversion battery
      was electrically isolated from the chassis, arcing to ground requires
      two separate faults -- and one fault would have triggered a
      Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC), making the vehicle undrivable. This
      didn't happen before the fire. (Alternately, the arcing we saw could
      have come from the accessory battery with a single fault.)

      OFFICIAL INVESTIGATOR: Dennis Field, certified fire inspector at
      Fire Cause Analysis, says, "As of this date and time the actual cause
      of this fire is under investigation, pending further examination of
      physical evidence, data, and interviews and use of the scientific
      method, to identify all potential ignition sources, and also the
      elimination of non-causes. There are currently several hypothesis
      which need further examination, testing and either confirmation or
      elimination. We simply do not have enough information at this time
      for any speculation."

      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
      Felix Kramer , Founder
      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
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