Badge on 2009 Mercury Mariner Hybrid
One of the knocks on hybrid vehicles comes from the vision-impaired community. Many hybrids disengage their internal combustion engines at slow speeds. When a driver slows to a stop or accelerates from a controlled intersection, the vehicle often uses only battery power. If you can't see it, and the gas engine isn't making any noise, chances are you won't know it's there.
Japan's transport ministry hears those concerns loud and clear. A thirteen member panel consisting of scholars, vision-impaired groups, consumers, police officers and auto industry representatives convened on Thursday to discuss the problem.
The group agreed that adding sound to the vehicles would help, but they haven't determined what type of sound should be used. Many residents that live adjacent to busy streets appreciate the quiet hybrids, so a compromise will have to be reached.
The panel plans to draft a report by the end of the year, which would be considered by the ministry's committee on automobile safety before it could become law. Can we say, "Brabus style soundtracks for everyone?"