Electronics & Test
NHTSA Wants Hybrids, EVs to Be Noisier

Toyota's Prius uses a Vehicle Proximity Notification System under the hood that emits additional engine-like noises below 15mph.   (Source: Toyota)
Toyota's Prius uses a Vehicle Proximity Notification System under the hood that emits additional engine-like noises below 15mph.
(Source: Toyota)

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Elizabeth M
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Feel ambivalent about this
Elizabeth M   1/16/2013 7:31:58 AM
Well, I guess I can understand the hazard and why this is a good idea to protect pedestrians. But at the same time, as someone who is sensitive to noise pollution, I think that it would be a GOOD thing for hybrids and EVs to be less noisy than gas-powered autos, not a bad thing. So I actually think it's a shame if something like this rule goes into effect. I certainly don't want people being injured or dying as a result of accidents caused by an inability to hear a hybrid car coming, but shouldn't it just be a sign that maybe people should be more present and pay attention when they're walking and in their every-day life instead of constantly being on the phone or texting or online on a mobile device. Food for thought, anyway.

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Re: Feel ambivalent about this
williamlweaver   1/16/2013 12:00:24 PM
I think designers have an opportunity to make things amazingly better and safer while leading innovation rather than trailing it and reactivly responding to NHTSA regulations.

I'm a fan of the Toyota Prius, but why does the Vehicle Proximity Notification System (VPNS) use the sound of an internal combustion engine? For me the purr of a well-tuned engine is an attractive sound, not an alarm.

I say the VPNS should not use screeching sirens, chimes, or horn sounds, but what about the sound of a growling bear, roaring lion, or rattle snake? Since we are already instrumenting automobiles with proximity sensors on our way to autonomous vehicles, it should be a simple step to determine a probable pedestrian collision at low speeds and emit the sound of a sharp bark from a large dog -- the pedestrian's autonomic nervous system would engage way before they would make the conscious decision to look up from their texting...

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Feel ambivalent about this
Ann R. Thryft   1/16/2013 12:11:39 PM
Much as I dislike noise pollution, especially from engines, I'm all for this. Those dang hybrid engines are too quiet! To get out of the driveway on my windy mountain road and go towards civilization, I have to either waste 5 minutes going down to the next side-street to turn around, or make a fast U-turn in the short section between two blind curves. I pick the U-turn every time. I can usually hear when a car's coming--but not lately, with so many quiet hybrid engines.

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Noisier Hybrid/EV Options
apresher   1/16/2013 5:11:21 PM
It is a bit unsettling how quiet these vehicles have become, and I guess one advantage of the noise is that you would know the vehicle is ready to go.  It's interesting the a big part of the motivation is to make streets safer for pedestrians. What kind of noise becomes "standard" (if there is such a thing) would be interesting.

Charles Murray
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Re: Feel ambivalent about this
Charles Murray   1/16/2013 7:29:27 PM
I agree, Bill. There must be a more pleasant sound than the growl of an internal combustion engine. A few years ago, automakers were talking about making vehicles ring like a telephone. That never got any traction, though.

Charles Murray
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Re: Feel ambivalent about this
Charles Murray   1/16/2013 7:30:46 PM
If the cars are approaching you at 15 mph or more, Ann, this won't do you any good. Maybe it's time to start thinking about that sidestreet turnaround.

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Re: Feel ambivalent about this
richnass   1/17/2013 9:13:04 AM
If I'm reading this right, this is a really dumb idea. Make extra noise? Are you kidding me? How about we require the driver to blast the radio. What happened to "look both ways befor you cross the stret?"

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Re: Feel ambivalent about this
ChriSharek   1/17/2013 9:27:08 AM
What ever happened to personal accountability in this country?!  This is such a joke.  Why wasn't this an issue when the hybrids came out 10 years ago?  All of a sudden with the introduction of EVs, it's an issue.  A complete joke.

I spent the last 4 days at the Detroit International Auto Show and there are more than a dozen PHEVs and EVs here.  The Cadillac ELR (a 2-door sexy Volt) won a design excellence award for the best production car.  Anyone doubting this electric revolution in the auto industry better figure it out quick.  We're here!

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playing card in the spokes??
burntpuppy   1/17/2013 9:32:26 AM
Can we just put a card in the spokes of the wheel like we did on our bikes? It is funny how people complain about how noisy cars are, then want to make a silent car noisy.

 Everyday I see people walking with headphones on, or a cell phone in their ear, should the cars be loud enough for them to hear?

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EricMJones   1/17/2013 9:33:04 AM
And baseball cards in the spokes won't work?

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