Jul 18, 2009

Speaking of Quiet

The Japanese have a problem. Japan's near-silent hybrid cars have been called dangerous by the vision-impaired and some users, prompting a government review on whether to add a noise-making device, according to an official.

The gas-electric vehicles, which in recent months have become the country's top-selling autos, hum along almost soundlessly when they are switched from fuel to battery mode.

The ministry has launched a panel of scholars, vision-impaired groups, consumers, police and the automobile industry to discuss the matter. They decided to consider introducing a sound-making function" in petrol-electric hybrids when the 13-member panel held its first meeting Thursday, the official said. They have not decided on what kind of sound should be used.

"On the other hand, we should pay attention to residents along roads as hybrids are excellent in reducing noise," the official added. Reduce sound pollution. OK, we reduced it. Now how much should we add back?