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7Jul/090

Hybrids Are Quiet. Too Quiet.

Shh!  What was that?   ... the wind.

One of the oft-touted features of electric cars is their silent operation, which reduces noise pollution in large cities.  But Japan's MLIT has recently suggested that hybrids' lack of noise may pose a threat to blind pedestrians, as well as drivers who can't use a mirror.  A ministry panel has suggested that automakers such as Toyota incorporate noise-making devices into their hybrid lines.  This is bound to please car companies, who have, doubtless, been looking for a way to negate the efficiency gained from the electric motor.   The addition of a noise maker would also present an opportunity for automakers to sell custom sounds for hybrids, such as train and horse effects.  One wonders why the option isn't already available, potentially profitable as it is.

Japan Mulls Making Hybrid Cars Louder [New York Times]