That's one heck of
That's one heck of an issue, alright. What I can tell you is that today's hybrid vehicles have been tested for EMF levels for the better part of the last 10 years by many government agencies, consumer advocacy and protection groups and several universities that I can think of, and the EMF levels have been found to be a non issue.
In reality, I don't know what criteria and thresholds were chosen to define whats acceptable or not but, hybrid detractors looked into this area and were left empty handed. Hummm...
Now, there are situations where the levels can be breached and I know first hand of at least one scenario where this happened with another hybrid vehicle. This particular case had to do with improper repairs after an accident and subsequent malfunctions that the dealer identified some time later.
Has your car been involved in an accident of some kind? Is there a way for you to get the vehicle's history? Improper structure restoration and poor re-assembly and grounding can often be the prominent culprits.
Since you had a very
Since you had a very rapid discharge of your battery assuming it is not an instrument error, there would be obvious visual evidence of the arching that occurred during the discharge. Absence of visual evidence would point me to the battery.
[For some reason, this forum
[For some reason, this forum keeps rejecting my followup posts as spam, and has done so for well over a year and a half. But I think this needs finalising so here is another attempt to do so...]
Well, I spoke with a neurologist at a major teaching hospital - he is a lecturer, researcher and clinician - about the foot thing. I explained the background which has led up to this current situation. His view is that the symptoms I am experiencing are consistent with a possible nerve injury due to an electromagnetic source. He has indicated that he will do some further background research on this, as there is a body of literature in the medical journals dealing with similar sensations and nerve pain brought on by, e.g., non-lethal electrocution, or similar electromagnetic events. It seems that I may well have been hyper-sensitised to even very small EM fields in non-hybrid cars as a result of the prolonged exposure in the Civic (recall that I almost certainly drove the car for considerably longer distances than anyone else, including Honda technical people). In the meantime, he has given me some medication to dampen the nerve pain, which has been partially effective - the sensations are muted when driving and afterwards, but not eliminated. There thus seems to be a genuine physical effect going on.
Honda also emailed to say that they are now returning the car, with the IMA battery replaced, and the 60,000km service done "with compliments", as well a few minor bits of work (eg wipers).
I emailed back to say that, given what has gone on and the neurologist's opinion, that I am (understandably you would think) reluctant to expose myself to even the remote possibility of any further electromagnetic effects in the future, whether 'minimal' (as a passage in an email from Honda Japan has suggested is the case for normal driving of the Civic), or not (as appears to have been the case from the IMA battery cell failure, which was Honda Japan's assessment of what the local technical manager also observed, that seems to have given rise to my current hyper-sensitivity). I therefore stated that I did not want the vehicle returned to me, as it looked very much that I had been 'zapped' by the car - most likely because of the now-diagnosed faulty IMA battery causing electromagnetic leakage - and had suffered a physical injury as a result.
Instead, I suggested that they refund the purchase price and keep the vehicle in order to carefully examine its further operation over time. That is, that I thought the car should be examined carefully on a continuing basis, as it could be a precursor of some possible headaches for Honda in the future if this effect is not an isolated one specific to this particular vehicle. I said that it would be wisest to avoid such a possibility by keeping it for more failure-mode testing and risk analysis. (Or, if not, to do a generous trade-in deal on a different vehicle, given that I had had it for only a few months before the fault developed).
The response was a longish email which sought to "clarify their position". It said that they had interviewed the previous owner organisation who never found a problem with it, nor were any concerns raised by the many people who drove it. It noted that no-one who had been involved in the technical division had ever experienced the burning/tingling effect. It also (incorrectly) stated that they had not been able to establish any fault with it, other than the IMA battery indicator discharge. This seems to suggest that it was the indicator, rather than the battery wihich was at fault, even though an earlier email had stated that Honda Japan advised replacement of the IMA battery "as it was likely showing signs of defective cells". During replacement of the IMA battery, the email states, all wiring/circuits, connections and componentry were examined and no faults were found. There was also mention made that when they contacted Honda Japan to report the case, Honda Japan advised that they had not received any similar field reports from around the world about the hybrid model since its introduction in 2002. Then there was the rather strange statement that they also advised that incorrect seating position could cause tingling due to restriction of blood circulation in parts of the body. Well, perhaps. But I reported BURNING as well, so I take this comment as disingenuous at best and as a side-swipe at worst. It stated that refund/trade-in discussions are commercial matters that they cannot become involved with. The email then concludes with statements that they have been more than supportive in investigating the car etc providing a hire car for transport etc carrying out the 60,000km service etc etc etc and that they are unable to offer any more advice.
Well. In my reply, I acknowledged the amount of effort that went into examining the car and I indicated how impressed I was with how seriously they had undertaken to investigate field reports of possible issues or faults with the vehicle. I did re-iterate that I was not the only person who felt the burning/tingling sensation (which seemed to be the implication in their email) and that a Honda representative had confirmed it independently. I also expressed that I understood that they could not get involved in commercial matters.
But, think about this for a moment, with your foresight hat on. I reminded Honda that I actually suggested that they keep the car so that they could conduct further risk assessment and failure-mode analysis. Why? There is the plausible possibility that this sort of thing may crop up again as other hybrids reach the same degree of mileage that this vehicle has reached, which is considerable for its relatively young age (some 3-4 times more than comparable vehicles, I understand form the local dealer). Now, I teach Corporate Strategy in the MBA here at my university, and heading off these kinds of potential risk 'wildcards' on consumer products obviously features very highly as part of managing risk and avoiding possible high-profile litigation arising from the introduction of new technologies, which can damage the brand. My suggestion was motivated from a desire to ensure that neither Honda nor myself were disadvantaged by the vehicle fault (admitted by Honda Japan) which had led us to this point. The intention was thus to find a 'win-win' in this situation, and was certainly NOT vexatious. I sought to clarify that, in order to avoid any misinterpretation of what I was suggesting. I then said that if such pro-active risk management was not feasible, or was not going to be undertaken, then I would certainly seek to negotiate a trade-in deal with the local dealership (with whom I had been very happy). I finished the email by urging Honda to investigate this sort of issue further, as it could easily be a 'black swan'-type issue, which might ultimately damage the Honda brand or image down the line. It would be a shame if that did occur when it could have been avoided by the use of a bit of strategic foresight.
So, that's where it ended. As soon as they sent it back I visited the local Honda dealership to work out a trade-in price on a *non-hybrid* vehicle, and traded away the hybrid (at a fair loss, too, I might add, of several thousand dollars).
Sadly, although I wanted to do the right thing and reduce my footprint on the planet, my foray into new/alternative technology merely seems to have got me stomped on and zapped for my trouble. I shall now wait until the technology is more mature; or perhaps for the hydrogen-combustion model of the next generation of vehicles, given that internal combustion is a well-understood power source, even if the fuel itself is novel.
I might add that, on looking
I might add that, on looking back on this experience from the vantage point of nearly a year and a half, although I owned the car for 6 months, fully 3 of those were spent with the car at Honda's maintenance facility. And that is not a good look for any vehicle.
I now have a late-model non-hybrid Mitsubishi Lancer, and my feet no longer tingle or burn when driving it, which was one of the tests I subjected potential replacement cars to. I also chose a model that has CVT to attempt to reduce fuel consumption somewhat. I have done trips with it that got around 7.5 L/100 km, which is not so bad, considering the Honda generally got around 6.5.
In short, I really wanted the Honda hybrid to be The Car, but the technology is still not mature. I worry for you all, based on my sideswipe with the possible downsides of hybrid tech.
Interesting saga, thanks for
Interesting saga, thanks for sharing.
Does your new Lancer offer realtime display of mileage,coupled with accumulating mileage since reset of trip meter? I find this is getting more common, I've seen it in a couple of non-hybrid cars in the last year, a great feature imho.
Today I received a letter
Today I received a letter from Honda Australia announcing a product safety recall affecting my old Honda Civic Hybrid vehicle. Apparently, there is a potential concern with the DC-DC converter which is part of the hybrid charging system; it seems that during manufacture, an electronic part may have been damaged. Thus, the car is being recalled to have this part replaced and repairs carried out free of charge.
Given the above record of my experience with the car, there is a bitter irony in this, wouldn't you say?