Prius Gets Optional Sound Enhancer to Protect Pedestrians

by , 08/24/10

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The Prius might be good for the earth, but it’s a bane to many pedestrians and bicyclists because it has an almost-silent engine. Many people (especially the blind) have been concerned about accidents — if you don’t hear the car coming, how are you supposed to get out of the way? Pedestrian lobbyists even introduced a bill — that was passed last year — that requires the government to conduct studies on just how dangerous silent electric vehicles are and how to address the problem. Well, Toyota has decided to test their own solution — all next-generation Prius vehicles sold in Japan will now come with an optional sound package. For 12,600 yen (or $148) you can protect pedestrians around you with an add-on that makes your engine sound like a real gas guzzler.

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Toyota hasn’t announced any plans for expansion of the program overseas, but they’re hoping that the option will catch on in Japan where pedestrian fatalities are high. The tiny windy streets of the country are already a dangerous place for walkers, bicyclists and vehicles to exist together — introduce a silent car and you’ve got a recipe for traffic accidents. The Japanese government issued guidelines in January addressing the silent nature of electric vehicles and Toyota promptly responded with this new option.

The fact that this is an optional enhancement strikes us as a bit strange — up front, the $148 you throw down for your car to make a little buzzing sound isn’t going to do much for you. Granted, forward thinkers will realize that it makes their car safer, but those looking to save some cash might shy away from the added feature. I suppose we’ll just have to wait for the 2011 Prius to hit the streets in Japan to see how much altruistic drivers are willing to spend to possibly save a pedestrian.

Via Physorg

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  1. gang green August 25, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    This is completely backwards thinking. One of the BIGGEST perks of an EV (or hybrid) – both for the driver and those outside the car – is that it does NOT make a lot of noise. The only reason that EVs are considered so horribly quiet is that you cannot hear them over gasoline and deisel engines. If/when all vehicles are EVs, you would be able to hear them – and those gas engines will seem ridiculously loud. Our grandchildren will think we were idiots!
    This probably is just a legal move to reduce Toyota’s liability, anyway – no one will buy it.

  2. jeanX August 25, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    I think it’s a good idea and not just for the blind,
    but for everyone.

  3. Peugeot 2008 Hybrid4: T... August 25, 2010 at 10:49 am

    […] most hybrids, such as the Prius, use a petrol-powered engine, the Peugeot 3008 boasts  a 163bhp 2.0-liter turbo diesel unit, that […]

  4. morleypattullo August 24, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    This is ridiculous! We should be thankful that these hybrid vehicles are producing less noise pollution in heavy traffic areas. Why waste money and resources on something that is unnecessary and impractical. Is this safety concern not the reason we have the horn?

  5. Mike August 24, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    As a city cycler I can attest that the Prius is the ghost-shark of our roadways — silent, deadly, and prone to unprovoked strikes.

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