View Full Version : EV causes $1.1 million fire damage

16 November 2010, 1547
You may have heard that rock legend Neil Young's music storage warehouse burned up on November 9 in San Carlos, CA. My newspaper reports that the fire was started by his 1959 Lincoln Continental EV which is powered by batteries fueled by a biodiesel-powered electric generator. Neil Young named the car LincVolt and it has been displayed in several auto shows, including the SEMA car show in Las Vegas earlier this month.

The article reports that while the exact cause of the fire is still being probed, Young wrote in a statement that "it seems to be an operator error that occurred in an untested part of the charging system". He further stated that "we are investigating the components involved with the plug-in charging."

Firefighters managed to save at least 70% of the building's contents, including five other classic cars. The fire severely damaged the car and also caused an estimated $850,000 in damage to the contents of the 10,000 sf warehouse. Damage to the building was estimated at $250,000.

Young had just returned from an appearance at the Specialty Equipment Market Association car show in Las Vegas, where he delivered a talk on the hybrid. He told the audience that he loved the LincVolt.

16 November 2010, 1750
Any bets on BMS/HVC or lack thereof being the issue????

16 November 2010, 1953

No comment

17 November 2010, 1840
An interesting footnote -- his batteries were sourced from EV Components. I know this because when I inquired about my order in February, I was told it had been mistakenly sent to him. That's about time the whole EVC thing began to spiral out of control, so I'm not sure how many others heard that same line.

I'm sure Neil didn't realize it, but he bought batteries with bad kharma. And we well know, kharma's a bitch.


19 November 2010, 1801
Ran across this topic on several other forums. I am hearing lots of nonsense bantered about and thought I'd share. I copied Jack R's coments below to show you guys another person's perspective. My comments follow the quote.

"I've been involved in this project somewhat for over a year. I did manage to talk them out of the Wankel - after it blew up. But I was shot down completely on the topic of the BMS.

The LincVolt fire is quite important. Neil Young has a very sincere interest in this area and I completely share his belief that people still want large cars, and you can actually do more for the environment converting a large car than you can converting a compact car.

GM had their IPO yesterday. Their currently profitable status is almost totally due to Escalade, Yukon, and Denali sales - not Chevy Volts.

In any event, the LincVolt used the Elithion BMS system by David Andreas. This man has personally been a one man fire department burning down cars all over the country. It controlled a Manzanita charger.

The car was put on charge and left. The fire broke out shortly after 2:00 AM. The LincVolt itself was the source and the damage was mostly in the rear of the car. Work it out guys.

It's not EV's that burn themselves to the ground. It is precisely what I have been preaching for two years. BMS's burn cars to the ground. When you are very sincerely trying to protect your substantial investment in these cells, FIRST DO NO HARM. And piling electronics on TOP of electronics to control the electronics isn't the way to do it.

http://media2.ev-tv.me/news111210-1280.mov (http://media2.ev-tv.me/news111210-1280.mov)

The ability of Neil Young to not only do a conversion but get it noticed is extremely powerful. I didn't see the rest of you keynoting SEMA for example. I think he's doing some great work and the concept that large cars should be converted should be obvious.

The capstone turbine was actually my idea, but not for the car. We were originally going to use it in a conversion of his 1938 Meteor motor launch.

In any event, I understand they are intent on rebuilding it. It was a work of art and done to the highest professional standards. But they truly believed that in spite of my urging, a BMS was in order. They are rethinking that position at this point.

Jack Rickard"

1) Now, I don't know the facts about the fire, but I doubt Jack does for sure either since they are still investigating. I do not share his conclusions that a BMS is never warranted because this particuler one may have been involved in the incident. I say MAY because even if one is installed, it needs to be properly configured and connected to do any good!
2) Jack got very lucky last month when he almost burnt his garage down. He plugged in a charger and forgot about it when he went out to dinner. Completely melted the battery, but luckily it was on a bench that did not ignite. He chooses to ignore this event in his logic of exactly why a good bms with HVC IS necessary!
3) I vehemently dissagree with his holy war on BMS in general and even worse his specific attacks on companies! BMS units and chargers are only as good as the people who install and use them. These companies are trying their best to make them idiot proof. Trouble is, they keep making better idiots......
4) His premise that converting monster sized vehicles is somehow more environmentally important than doing it "right sized" is ludicrous. This is the stance that the big 3 auto companies in America have been trying to get the naive to buy into for some time now. It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that this is their attempt to continue making those big profitable vehicles even in the face of dwindling resources. Let the gas price rise to where it is in other countries and then we'll see how many people get off that train quickly.
5) The one thing we can all agree on is that Li batteries make a nice fuel souce if they do catch on fire. IMO, this means we need to think about their safety in our designs. Mechanical connection to the vehicle is a must under all possibilities. Keep all possible ignition devices away from them. Think safety first. Let's be careful out there.

Jumping off my soapbox now......

Point/Counterpoint Bruce

19 November 2010, 1947
Thanks for this post. Since I work at Manzanita Micro and have also been brought in to look at that Metor boat project I'm keeping a close eye on what the real cause was.

We build a good number of BMS units but if in anyway we felt that with proper instalation and use they posed any unexceptable risk we would stop production promptly.

My other contension about the use of a BMS is that if companies like Dow Koham insist on the use of a proper BMS system wether its theirs or ours leads me to think that Jack making sweeping statements calling for the end of there use is foolhardy. I'm not saying that all of us in the business of making BMS stop looking for ways to improve the safety and reliability of our products.

19 November 2010, 1952
My only comment would be to ask how many house fires are due to the electrical wiring? Either by faulty wiring, poor installation, undersized/overloaded circuits, faulty appliances? If this turns out to be BMS/charging related, (as it probably is), then the question should be was it poor design or poor installation, (or both, or neither), and the conclusion shouldn't be that BMSes cause fires and I told you so!


19 November 2010, 2009
I can tell you I have spent several days just looking for some PCB to PCB jumpers to handel the current (wich is less than 3 amps per channel) that don't cost an arm and a leg in small quanaties or just flat out require you to purchase 1000 or more to even get them that meet the minimum safety requirements we have. One thing we have to do is balance wanting to make them affordable while at the same time not comprimising safety.

So if your ever sitting at your desk and hear a loud thud....it could be my head breaking my desk after another round of searching the samtec, allied, mouser or some other electronics parts catalog.