Article and photos by Jason Emery
The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, Ford's second entry in the hybrid market, brings a notable advancement in hybrid technology. Like the Ford Escape hybrid, this is considered a full hybrid system. This vehicle, however, can travel up to 47 mph on the electric motor alone, almost double the Escape's capability. This is the first model year that this vehicle was offered as a hybrid. The characteristics and procedures noted in this article also apply to the 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid.
As is common with most hybrids, the overall vehicle design is the same as the model's nonhybrid version. Personnel should review all vehicles involved in a collision for formal indicators that it may be a hybrid (or other type of alternative-fueled vehicle for that matter). Hybrid badging or indicators are on the both front doors (photo 1) and on the right side of the trunk lid (photo 2). Also, if the fifth, sixth, and seventh positions of the vehicle identification number contain P0L or M0L, you are dealing with a Fusion or Milan hybrid, respectively.
Internal indicators that the vehicle is a hybrid are found in the dashboard area. The driver can select one of four dashboard layouts (it is an LCD screen), depending on the information he would like to see. A green icon with the letters "EV" indicates the vehicle is in its "ready" mode (photo 3) and is ready to move at any moment, even if the vehicle's gasoline engine is shut down. This indicator turns into a tachometer when the engine is running. Additional indicators are found in the engine compartment, including orange wiring, high-voltage warning labels, and the hybrid text and Greenleaf logo on the plastic engine cowling (photo 4).
Hybrid Systems and Operation
The Fusion/Milan Hybrid uses a 275-volt high-voltage battery, located behind rear seat back, for vehicle propulsion. This battery is composed of multiple low-voltage batteries in series. These are dry-cell batteries and do not pose a leak hazard. As is standard with other models, the gasoline engine and regenerative braking recharge the high-voltage battery. As mentioned previously, this hybrid is considered a full hybrid since it can run on its electric motor alone at speeds of up to 47 mph; it also uses the electric motor to assist the gasoline engine, depending on the acceleration needs. The high-voltage system also powers the vehicle's air conditioning system
Always ensure that personnel are out of the vehicle's potential travel path; approach a vehicle involved in an accident from the sides instead of the front or rear. This is crucial when dealing with hybrid vehicles. Although the engine may seem to be off, it could actually be in its "ready" mode, in which case it could move without any warning if the driver were to remove his foot from the brake or accidently hit the accelerator. Always place the vehicle transmission in Park and engage the parking brake to secure it. Use wheel chocks to secure the vehicle initially, especially if it is damaged such that it's impossible to access the vehicle to set it in Park and engage the parking brake.
After securing the vehicle, the next goal is to shut down the high-voltage and occupant protection systems. The fastest way to do this is to turn the ignition off and disconnect the negative side of the 12-volt battery, which is located in the traditional spot under the hood on the driver's side (photo 5). Disconnecting the 12-volt battery shuts down the components that control the flow of high-voltage electricity, which results in a system shutdown. Common bleed-down times on hybrid systems are around five minutes. If required, additional protection can be achieved by using the service disconnect mounted on the battery. Review the vehicle's ERG for the specific procedure.
In this model, the disconnect can be difficult to reach and cannot be accessed if there is a passenger in the driver's side or center position of the 60/40 split rear seat. To access the disconnect, you must lower the driver's side of the rear seat back, which is released from the trunk area. The Ford Fusion ERG indicates that there are two latches you need to release, but you only need to release the driver's side latch to access the disconnect. This latch is very difficult to locate and visualize.
1. Locate the release lever between the high-voltage battery and the body sheet metal (photo 6).
2. Push the lever towards the outside of the vehicle. Because of its location and small size, you will most likely not be able to reach it with your fingers, so be prepared to use a flathead screwdriver to manipulate it. (photos 7-8).
3. The rear seat latch is released and the disconnect can be accessed. (photo 9)
The center position seat belt may hold the seat in place and result in the seat needing to be pulled down. Once the service disconnect is accessed, simply pull the latch out to the right, flip it up to the left, and then pull it straight out (photo 10). This shuts down the connection between the battery and the rest of the high-voltage system. Always keep in mind, however, that the battery remains energized. If the battery is damaged, do not attempt to access the service disconnect lever. In such a case it should only be attempted by a trained technician with the proper equipment.Click to enlarge
There are no specific techniques for extrications involving the Fusion/Milan hybrid. As with all hybrids, you must take care not to cut through high- or medium-voltage cables. In the Fusion/Milan Hybrid, the high-voltage cables run underneath the vehicle, roughly in the center of the passenger's side, not an area typically considered a cut point. Like some of the other hybrid models, there is very little orange to see on the underside of this vehicle (photo 11).
The basic guidelines for the Fusion/Milan hybrid are consistent with the other full hybrid models that are currently on the road. On arrival on-scene and prior to extrication operations, always look for indicators that the vehicle is a hybrid or other type of alternative-fueled vehicle.
If you have been involved with an incident involving hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles please contact Jason@etsrescue.com. Case studies involving specific incidents will help further educate firefighters on the proper methodology for dealing with hybrids and other alternative fueled vehicles.
Jason Emery has been with the Waterbury (CT) Fire Department for 15 years and is a lieutenant with its Rescue/Hazmat Company. He is a 19-year veteran of the fire service, a certified fire instructor, and holds a bachelor's degree in fire science from the University of New Haven. He has taught extensively on the subject of hybrid vehicles and is a FDIC lecturer. He is the founder of Emergency Training Solutions, LLC and is the lead PowerPoint designer for the upcoming Fire Engineering Handbook for Firefighter I & II curriculum. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subjects: Hybrid vehicle hazards and extrication.