Quiet hybrids: An end to their sounds of silence?


The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

A noble goal, but has anyone ever been awakened by the beep-beep sound of vehicles backing up? Drives me crazy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Perhaps the instigators of JR's endless advisory messages could offer some suggestions.

Why having whirring noises? Wouldn't it be so much more Japanese to have "Be careful, there is a hybrid or electric car in the area. Do not walk in the road. It is dangerous as you could be hit by a car or other moving vehicle" repeated ad nauseum through speakers mounted in the car. Coming to think of it, the same message could be repeated through speakers mounted on every utility pole in the country.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My hybrid runs with 15" woofers -you could hear me about 1km away easy. I guess people need to find ways to use the extra battery energy to produce sound.

Don't complain about those noisy scooters with their cut-off exhausts -they are just trying to be safe at 2AM.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Learn to walk in the side walk, *rule 1. Then if you are walking in the street pay attention. Japanese walk around any where they want and they expect others to take care of them. Very child like. If you are going to play in the street, then you might get hit. Everyone knows Japanese streets are third world. They say it is because the cities are big. What a lie. It's that there is no city planning at all here. So if everybody knows, then people should take better care. But they don't because they can't think for themselves. Stop blaming the cars. 99% of the time it is people simply not paying attention and walking in the street.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How about this idea:

Why don't the drivers realize they are driving a vehicle that could kill somebody, and watch where the f*** they are going? Would it be too much to ask to tap your horn when you see pedestrians and realize they don't hear you?

Of course that would be too much to ask. The drivers are too busy talking on their cell phones, listening to the radio, and shaving/putting on their makeup.

Everybody wants some "automatic" thing to do their thinking for them and relieve them of the responsibility.

Pay attention.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Everyone knows Japanese streets are third world.

The discussion is under way in the US and has nothing to do with the streets in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was looking forward to quieter streets with electric or hybrids replacing noisy petrol driven cars. Instead we'll have a cacophony of beep and bleeps which will be utterly pointless and plain annoying.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Quiet hybrids and electric vehicles is the very same reason why Biker reject Electric bicycles.

TOO damn quiet, you can't hear them approach, etc.

And, yes I know of the plans to play recorded engine sounds to make them audible.

Just imagine a drag-race, F1-race when all cars go by silently wooosh, wooosh.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

noborito, it's "on" the sidewalk, not "in." Anyway, I agree, people need to start paying more attention. But can you say the same thing for the blind?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why aren't there devices on bicycles, and blind person's canes that can emit a signal that warns drivers of a real person? Same for backing up? Aren't our electronics up to such a TRANSMITTER? COULDN'T WE EVEN HAVE such a device,IN OUR CAP BRIMS, OUR SHOES, OR BELTS, or PURSES AND WALLETS? wHY is the US and other countries? creating artificial noise? (For safety?) Now what do we do for people who are DEAF? And when might we have infra-red in our cars for fog, snow, and, hence, people?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I suggest all hybrids have an attendant walk in front of them thus ensuring they remain at a safe 6.4 kms per hour in the country and 3.2 in towns. Said attendant will also walk 50 metres ahead of the vehicle, bearing a red flag, signaling the driver when to stop.

Or have we been there before...?

(The 'Locomotives on Highways Act' (Red Flag Act) was passed by the British Government in 1865).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All the dingbats that posted such inane comments as

Why don't the drivers realize they are driving a vehicle that could kill somebody, and watch where the f*** they are going?


if you are walking in the street pay attention.

Obviously you have no concept of how much pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists rely on sound to make decisions. We expect, as peds and cyclists, to hear vehicles approaching. It hasn't got jack t to do with paying attention. Drivers expect people to hear them coming, again, not having jack t to do with paying attention. That's how it's been for a very long time. You just don't unlearn these things.

I was saying this when the Prius debuted, what 8-9 years ago in California. People were always surprised when I said the damned things need to be noisier.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'd like to see an end to all the noisy ( and stinky ) motorbikes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


I revv my bike in your general direction and it don't stink as it is well maintained. Hah.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Let there be no doubt about the fact that the semi-electric and electric vehicles are not the only ones that produce very little noise. In the 1960s already milk, groceries, other food products and mail were delivered by electric vehicles. Never noticed a discussion on making these vehicles noisier.

Today many internal combustion engine vehicles are also very, very quiet at low speed and you can't even hear them idling. Free-wheeling bikes are also stealthy, so let's think this through very thoroughly before targeting just one category of road vehicle.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sarge is right. Most of these 2-stroke engine scooters ARE bloody noisy and being 2-strokes they stink.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The ridiculous thing about this is that at a certain point, a high enough ambient background noise makes all cars "silent" at low speeds. Somehow the blind managed to overcome this obstacle without every auto being equiped with a police siren for their safety. A lot of it has to do with hype. As of 2 years ago, there were no documented cases of blind pedestrians being hit by hybrid or electric vehicles.

The best solution would be to equip the blind (who are fewer in number than hybrids) with a receiver and earpiece that would let them know a hybrid is in the area by a radio signal transmitted by the hybrid. The best we can hope for in a world that is already too annoyingly noisey, is that the transmitted noise will not be too annoying. Perhaps run the cooling fans at speeds under 15 mph.

And, BTW, hybrids do make noise at all speeds - tire noise.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Didn't some Japanese high school kid win a price last year for designing a noisemaker that would go quiet at highway speeds? It consists of a closed tube with a little loose weight in it, and the tube is mounted near the wheel's center at right angles to the axle. At slower speeds, as appropriate on a city street, the weight drops every time the tube is inverted, making a clacking sound of a frequency increasing with the speed. At highway speeds the centrifugal force of the wheels' rapid rotation keeps the weight from falling to the other end of the tube, avoiding unnneeded noise.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just why do they hate quiet, is something beyond my imagination! Go to any restaurant, no matter how classy, you'll find it hard to survive without your ear drums not being ripped from the lack of manner and disrespect to the people around! Live near any school and you'll have the impression that you're in a military camp with the shouting and screaming of baseball club students training till late time and all the time! Try to stay home to avoid the hassle of noise pollution and dream of having a peaceful Sunday, and you'll get shocked by the horrible loud speakers of the recycle electrical garbage collectors. Not to mention the very annoying election campaign vans with super loud speakers that campaign for no bull other than saying Arigatou gozaimasu, yoroshiku onegaishimasu! And now they want to kill one of the very few quiet things that exist in this country??? I mean come on, give us a break! Bicycles could also seriously injure people! And there are zillions of them with extremely careless riders, don't tell me that we need to install noise making equipments to alert the blind and children.. jeez japan

0 ( +0 / -0 )


As was said because as a rider/driver we rely a LOT on sound. Motorbikes are hard to see in rear-view mirrors and many car-drivers get notified of them by the engine sound and not visual cues. Bikers are aware of that hence we don 't like too quiet bikes.

Same way we listen if something approaches when we stop at an intersection.

You can't hear a pedestrian or a bicycle(unless poorly maintained). Hence many near-misses.

Also sound also relays info about the speed, size and type of an approaching motor-vehicle(much of that is sub-conscious).

There have already been many advisories in a few countries warning people/children about hybrids that they are quiet at slow speeds and town-traffic so extra care needs to be taken.

Ex.: Ball in road, kid wants to get it, don't hears a car and dashes out between parked Cars, BAAMMMNN. Hood Ornament on a Prius, etc.

Extra care and education is needed till that sets in ......

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Mazda has the right solution for this problem: make them sound like "zoom zoom zoom"...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Obviously iTunes - Car Tones Edition. I want the Knight Rider whoo-whoo as a horn and the digital hum while in drive. C'mon that WOULD be good. It doesn't have to be very loud.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I will drive with the window down and a FIFA horn in-mouth. =I will do my part to make the roadways safe (for all).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you can make a traction motor on a train or a trolleybus whirr because of it's design, why is it such a big ask to do this on a car? It would sound better than a fake V8 noise for example being emitted while the car is in motion.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

2-stroke engines are stinky and noisy (but so are the rest of Japanese cities) but they can do 40-70km to the litre, unlike stinkier and noisier cars (hybrids I don't know)

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Why don't the drivers realize they are driving a vehicle that could kill somebody, and watch where the f*** they are going? Would it be too much to ask to tap your horn when you see pedestrians and realize they don't hear you?

Because it would do no good because they've got their earphones in and their ipod turned up to max. Instead I just stop my car, it's a much safer option.

Of course sometimes it's just impossible to stop. Some idiotic pedestrian steps out from behind a tree 3 meters in front of my car and there is NOTHING I can do. Even going at 20km/hr the reaction time alone is 6 meters and the stopping distance is 3 meters, that's 9 meters total to stop.

That's why the idea about some sort of transmitter is a good idea. It should ping or buzz (with increasing strength as the car approaches) to alert the pedestrian, AND the driver should get a ping too so that they can decrease speed if there's a pinging but no pedestrian in sight (e.g. hiding behind a bush or something).

Frankly though pedestrians need to be held equally accountable for their actions. I've lost count of the number of times I've had to swerve (no time to stop, so swerving is the only option) and nearly injured myself and my passengers because some pedestrian has just walked out into the road without warning. That pedestrian should be charged with attempted manslaughter, because their actions recklessly endangered everyone in my car, not to mention oncoming traffic, pedestrians on the other side of the road, etc.

At the moment the total lack of accountability by pedestrians is a huge problem.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Make a law requiring Hybrids have to have tires/tyres which create more 'noise' in contact with the road surface at speeds of less than 20 mph, and quieter above.

The rim can be clearly marked with an 'H'.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Stupid idea!

I drive down my "shotengai" (only access to my place) with my car almost everyday I beep my horn, flash my lights and I don't have a Hybrid just a small noisy 4 cylinder gasoline engine and still people don't move out of the way, many just turn and stare at the car like a dear in headlights at night.

People are plain stupid and irresponsible and are just looking for another reason to be less responsible.

I can see it now all the lawsuits for any Hybrid not retrofitted: Toyota get ready here it comes again!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Laet's hope it's a dear deer in the headlghts then! :8)

You may say it's stupid, limboinjapan, but what I mean is that if the tyres/tires genuinely do make a noise, then the onus can be placed more fairly and squarely upon the pesdestrian who was not listening/looking, and the driver will then with luck not have to automatically shoulder all the blame for someone else's stupidity.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oops, "Let's" and "pedestrian" slipped thru the JT spell checker. Apologies.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites