The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Toyota Corrects Erroneous Story About Emergency Workers and Hybrid Vehicles

May 10, 2004

An Associated Press article and other reports in early May indicated that emergency workers who cut through the doors of a hybrid vehicle may receive an electric shock.Toyota Motor Co. announced on May 6 that that information is not correct. The Toyota Prius gas-electric hybrid vehicle has many safeguards to help ensure safe operation for drivers and protection of emergency response professionals in the event of an accident. The power cables carrying electric current are automatically shut down in the case of an accident. Furthermore, power cables are not located near the doors of the vehicle -- they are located well outside of any area likely to be accessed by emergency crews.The high voltage batteries are contained in a protective case located in a portion of the vehicle unlikely to be penetrated in a collision. Drivetrain management computers continuously monitor all system functions performing hundreds of tests each minute. In the event an abnormal condition is detected, all high voltage circuits are disabled and high voltage is contained inside the protective case.Further, two safety mechanisms shut off the engine and disconnect high voltage if an airbag is deployed or if there is a sudden deceleration indicative of an accident. High voltage cables and components are heavily insulated, shielded, isolated and the cables are painted bright orange for easy identification. The controller box is a sealed unit and has warning labels.To reassure emergency response professionals when the Prius was introduced in 2000, Toyota placed advertisements in trade publications and sent letters to industry organizations announcing the availability and dissemination of Emergency Response Guides. Today, Emergency Response Guides for all Toyota's alternative fuel vehicles, including Prius, RAV 4 EV, CNG Camry and Highlander Fuel Cell Hybrid are available at Toyota's technical information web site and Toyota continues to advertise in appropriate professional publications.
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