If you haven't been around an electric or hybrid vehicle, there is one curious aspect that frankly creeped me out: they don't make any noise. We had friends over for dinner who had just bought a Prius and we all went out to look at it when they left.
The car just sort of rolled back out of the driveway like the brake had slipped or something, the only sound was the crunching of gravel. It got me to thinking (and maybe some of you hybrid owners can help) about knowing the car was working when it doesn't make any noise. For example, you're waiting to turn left on a busy road or pull out into a crowded oncoming stream of traffic. The last thing to boost my confidence would be a silent, unvibrating car. That's what a dead car sounds like. It would take a long time to have the confidence, I think, that when I mash on the accelerator, something would happen.
Of course, another problem is we have come to depend on noise to remind us cars are around.
Am I the only one who can imagine a individual "car-tone" download industry arising, similar to ringtones?
Hybrid and electric vehicles are potentially silent killers thanks to their stealthy electric engines that do not warn pedestrians they are coming. So goes the argument for making them produce some kind of warning noise, a proposal strongly backed by the National Federation for the Blind.
A bill backed by 16 US members of Congress would require the Department of Transportation to establish minimum sound levels for all hybrid and electric vehicles. And just last month, a mother whose son was hit by a Toyota Prius raised concerns over the stealthy nature of such cars. [More]