Hybrid Vehicle Update - Part 1 Color-Coding High-Voltage Cables & Connectors

SUBJECT: Hybrid Vehicle Update — Part 1

TOPIC: Color-Coding of Hybrid Vehicle High-Voltage Cables and Connectors

OBJECTIVE: The responder shall identify the three possible colors of high-voltage electric cables and connectors within the engine compartment of a gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle.

TASK: The rescue team member shall raise the hood of a gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle and be capable of identifying all high-voltage cables and connectors based upon the unique color of the cables and wiring within the engine compartment.

The 2007 model year introduced a significant change in one of the essential elements of gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles. From a fire and rescue responder point of view, our experience with hybrids has taught us that these vehicles have high-voltage electrical systems. This includes a high-voltage battery somewhere at the rear of the vehicle, an electric motor somewhere within the engine compartment and a bundle of heavy-duty electrical cables connecting these two together.

We also learned right from the introduction of the first hybrid vehicles in the U.S. in 2000 that hybrid vehicle high-voltage electrical cables and connectors were "traffic cone" orange. This was such a great thing. If it was high voltage, it was orange. Well, much of that has changed with the current model year of hybrid vehicles. This University of Extrication column is designed as a pictorial tour of just the engine compartments of specific 2007 model-year gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles. The teaching point will become clear as you view these images. Manufacturers no longer exclusively identify high-voltage hybrid electric cables and connectors by the color orange. It is now possible to have high-voltage wiring color-coded orange, bright blue or even yellow. Some hybrid vehicles use two different colors for their high-voltage electrical system on the same vehicle! All orange cables on a gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle are high voltage. However, not all high-voltage cables on a hybrid are orange! Raise the hood and see for yourself.

The bottom line on our safety at hybrid-vehicle incidents rests with responders recognizing that they are dealing with a hybrid vehicle in the first place. Remember that all orange cables on a hybrid vehicle are high voltage, but not all high-voltage cables on a hybrid are orange!