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A piece of electric car history up in flames: several Tesla Roadsters and original Tzero lost in devastating fire
May 11, 2017 Fred Lambert
Tzero (before& after)
TESLA ROADSTER TZERO (employee lunch 4hrs before fire)
Today we learned of a piece of electric car history that went up in flames last week. Those familiar with the early days of Tesla know that AC Propulsion’s Tzero is an important vehicle. It was a small all-electric sports car using lead-acid batteries that Tesla helped convert to li-ion cells and used the vehicle to convince investors to support their vision to build what later became the Tesla Roadster.
Only 3 Tzero vehicles were ever built and one of them was destroyed in a fire last week in Arizona – along with several of its successors, the Tesla Roadster.
Pete Gruber, CEO of Gruber Industries, a hardware company, and Gruber Motor Company, is a Tesla Roadster owner and a big fan of the vehicle. He even publishes a monthly newsletter about the vehicle. His company was buying a lot of Roadsters and refurbishing them or selling parts.
He had several Roadsters in his garage last week when it caught on fire in Phoenix. Arizona Central reported:
“A late-afternoon fire that caused the roof of a north Phoenix manufacturing building to collapse on Friday was exacerbated by lithium batteries inside, according to the Phoenix Fire Department.
The blaze started just before 5 p.m. at a manufacturing building near Central Avenue and Deer Valley Road that produces batteries and motors for electric vehicles, officials said. Dozens of units responded as the department sounded three alarms.”
As the publication mentioned, the lithium batteries certainly aggravated the fire, but they were not necessarily the cause of the fire. The company was reportedly trying to repair the battery pack of one of the Roadsters using “experimental techniques” that might have caused the fire, but it’s not clear at this point. There’s a thread on the Tesla Motors Club about it.
We have reached out to Gruber for a comment. We will update if we get an answer.
Gruber posted pictures of the garage just hours before the fire and then of the aftermath (via Flickr credit to Pete Gruber):
It looks like 5 or 6 Roadsters have been lost and the Tzero. Probably over $500,000 worth of electric vehicles.
The fire also resulted in now only one of 3 Tzero vehicles left in circulation and that vehicle became priceless for some electric vehicle enthusiasts. Considering there were only just over 2,000 Tesla Roadster ever made, It also made the vehicle rarer.
Arguably, the Tzero [EV] was an important part of launching the resurgence of electric vehicles in the 2000s. It inspired the Tesla Roadster, which in turn inspired the Chevy Volt [pih] and enabled Tesla to develop the Model S [EV], which in turn is currently inspiring a whole generation of new electric vehicles.
If you know who owns the last one, let us know.
The Rare Car That Inspired Musk to Build the Roadster Is Lost in a Fire
11 May 2017 Vlad Mitrache
You may probably recollect the Tesla Model S that caught fire while charging in Norway and was left to burn while the firefighters could only sit back and watch and make sure the fire didn't spread to any of the adjacent buildings.
AC Propulsion TzeroThat's the thing with lithium-ion batteries catching fire: they can't be put out using traditional means. Spraying water over them doesn't only present a risk of electrical shocks, but can also release toxic gasses into the atmosphere.
When one car is engulfed in flames outdoors things are rather simple: contain the fire and allow it to simmer down on itself. Indoors, however, things get more complicated since the chances of it spreading are much greater.
The firefighters at the Phoenix Fire Department found that out on their own when they received a call about a fire at Grueber Motors. The flames were apparently caused by an experimental procedure performed on the battery pack of a Tesla Roadster. All personnel was evacuated safely, AZ Central says, but there was still one high-profile casualty to be had.
One of the last two Tzero electric roadsters - and the last one in working order - was housed in the building at the time. The hand-built electric vehicles made by AC Propulsion are credited to have inspired Elon Musk to create Tesla Motors and build the Tesla Roadster.
In fact, AC Propulsion became the initial powertrain supplier for Tesla, before the company started producing its own electric motors. Unlike AC Propulsion, though, Musk chose to use an existing body design for the basis of his sports car, with the Lotus Elise being the donor.
The Tzero wasn't the only vehicle lost to the fire. There were reportedly (as pointed out in a TMC discussion) no fewer than six Tesla Roadsters, a Tesla Model S, a smart electric drive and an ACR Viper, acting as the elephant in the room. The total value of the destroyed vehicles is unknown, but it's clearly the complete carbonization of the Tzero that hurts the most.
Historic “Tzero” that inspired Musk to create Tesla’s Roadster burned down in a fire
May 10, 2017 A fire at Gruber Motors has left one of the last Tzeros on the planet in ashes after an ... The Tzero was a rare electric vehicle designed and built in very limited ...
Fire @Gruber Power Services burned e-motors& Tesla li-ion cells in N.Phoenix-AZ
May 06 2017
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