Not as simple as they seem

Honda has recently published rescue handling manuals for the Japanese brand’s PCX Hybrid and Electric scooters. As more riders around the world adopt greener mobility by purchasing two-wheelers with electric or hybrid powertrains, they must be informed about the safety precautions for handling similar high-voltage vehicles — especially in the event of an accident or during repairs.

These manuals are being made available on certain Honda dealer websites, and are meant specifically for PCX Hybrid and Electric owners as well as service professionals. Nevertheless, the rescue handling manuals can help the public, law enforcement, and emergency workers brush up on basic electrical safety measures when handling hybrid bikes and light electric vehicles (LEVs). Honda warns readers that failing to follow instructions when dealing with these high-voltage systems can lead to death or serious injury.

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First, Honda reminds people to check for markings, badges, emblems, or VINs on a scooter to distinguish whether it is a hybrid or electric vehicle. In the case of the PCX, the identifiers are found at the side or in the luggage box. The PCX Hybrid is equipped with an electric motor, a gasoline engine, and a system that uses a total voltage of 50 V or higher. Meanwhile, the PCX Electric’s system uses a maximum of 115 V.

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Voltage cables for both the PCX Electric and Hybrid scooters are colored violet and orange. Violet corresponds to less than 60 V while orange indicates 60 V or higher. Never touch any damaged or exposed parts of these voltage cables, other wiring, or terminals. To address the risk of contact, always use properly insulated protective gear (gloves, shoes, and glasses) that’s rated to endure the specified voltage when working on a hybrid or electric vehicle. Also, have an ABC fire extinguisher and gas mask ready nearby.

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When putting the damaged or serviced scooter aside or in storage, place a “Work in progress. Do not touch!” sign on the vehicle. Honda recommends labelling the scooter as an electric or hybrid model.

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Interrupt the voltage manually by turning off the ignition switch. If the ignition cannot be operated, open the seat and remove the system circuit. For the PCX Hybrid, carefully disconnect the 12 V battery and wait two minutes for the stored charge to be fully discharged before proceeding with other work. The Hybrid has an additional lithium-ion drive battery (50 V or higher) concealed under the seat.

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For the PCX Electric, switch the power off and wait for 10 minutes to fully discharge the stored charge. Remove both Mobile Power Pack batteries (35 to 57.4 V or more, each) and take a moment before proceeding to allow sufficient discharge. Then remove the 12 V battery and wait for ten minutes for full discharge.

In the event that the lithium-ion batteries get damaged, there is no danger of the electrolyte leaking in large quantities. In case of leakage, do not touch wiring components or conductors around the powertrain without the proper protection. Do not wet the damaged battery with water, expose it to direct sunlight, heat, and external forces, or place it in the vicinity of a fire or stove. Wear solvent-resistant gear to wipe away leaked liquid with a dry cloth. Seal all used cloths in bags or containers and dispose of them as industrial waste.

Buyers of the electric and hybrid scooters should review and consult all instruction manuals provided by manufacturers. Honda’s safety precautions can also serve as helpful reminders for those who ride or will encounter LEVs, not limited to PCX Electric or Hybrid scooters. English rescue handling manuals for the Honda PCX Hybrid are now available, while an English translation for the PCX Electric is expected soon.