Japan Says Hybrid Cars Too Quiet

"Hybrid vehicles are dangerous."

Hybrid cars might arguably be better for the environment, but according to the Japanese Transport Ministry, they could be dangerous to some pedestrians, as a result of their near-silence at low speeds. As a result, hybrid vehicles might be required to come equipped with a noise-making device.

The concern is that when operating on battery power it is difficult to hear a hybrid vehicle coming, which could make it a risk for the visually impaired. According to the Transport Ministry is “received opinions from automobile users and vision-impaired people that they feel hybrid vehicles are dangerous.”

In response to those concerns, the Transport Ministry gathered a panel of “scholars, vision-impaired groups, consumers, police and the automobile industry to discuss the issue.” Their conclusion? “To consider introducing a sound-making function” in hybrid vehicles. Profound!

Far be it from me to point out that even though the engine noise of hybrid vehicles is – generally – greatly lessened they do still produce tyre noise when moving and, perhaps more notably, are generally moving within other traffic. One quiet car amount hundreds of loud ones hardly poses a threat. Not to say that there are probably some occasions where a silent vehicle could be an issue; I just can’t think of any.

Whether export-vehicles would be affected should regulations require hybrid vehicle manufacturers in Japan to add sound-emitters to their vehicles is, unsurprisingly, unclear. It’s an interesting possibility to bear in mind, though – I’ll take a quacking Prius, please.


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