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Historic “Tzero” that inspired Musk to create Tesla’s Roadster burned down in a fire

Tzero lost in fire at Gruber Motors [Credit: Peter Gruber via TMC]

A fire at Gruber Motors has left one of the last Tzeros on the planet in ashes after an allegedly experimental procedure being performed on a Roadster battery caused a fire.

Firefighters were called to the scene of a 3-alarm fire last week, but were warned by employees of the presence of lithium-ion batteries. The fire department reportedly held off dousing the fire with water which would have potentially resulted in the release of toxic gasses. All employees were safely evacuated. However, the same cannot be said for the historic hand-built electric vehicles that shared the space.



The Tzero was a rare electric vehicle designed and built in very limited numbers by AC Propulsion. It’s the same vehicle that inspired Elon Musk to create Tesla Motors and the Roadster. AC Propulsion would later become a supplier of the Roadster’s first electric drivetrain assembly before Tesla revised the design to create their own proprietary powertrain.

A post over on the Tesla Motors Club forum quotes the original owner of the Tzero, saying:

“They were using an experimental procedure to ‘recover’ a bricked Tesla Roadster battery and the battery caught fire. It spread through the building. I don’t think this says anything about the safety of the battery in general, but I’ll bet they perform that procedure outside in the future…”

In addition to the loss of the historic Tzero, photos posted by owner of Gruber Motors, Pete Gruber, show a host of other vehicles in the building just hours before the fire destroyed a reported six Tesla Roadsters, a Tesla Model S, an EV Smart and an ACR Viper. Dramatic before and after photos reveal the catastrophic damage that resulted from the fire.

Tzero #2 that was destroyed in the fire was the last functional Tzero. Only one other Tzero still remains in existence but is out of commission and in need of a new battery, according to discussion taking place within the forum.

Local news service AZ Central also captured a short clip of the blaze on camera though it does not reveal much more than the fact that the building was in fact on fire.

Source: AZ Central via TMC. Hat tip to Dennis Pascual.

Historic “Tzero” that inspired Musk to create Tesla’s Roadster burned down in a fire

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