Conversion Fire: Batteries Still Intact; Investigation Continues
- 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
* 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
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."
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Felix Kramer , Founder
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