Poll: Should hybrid and electric vehicles be made louder?

A story we posted a few days ago about a Japanese government review into whether hybrids and, by extension, electric vehicles should be made to emit more noise got us thinking. So, we've decided to poll you, our dear readers, about the subject.

commentary A story we posted a few days ago about a Japanese government review into whether hybrids and, by extension, electric vehicles should be made to emit more noise got us thinking. So, we've decided to poll you, our dear readers, about the subject.

You can find the original story here, but if what the sociologists tell us is true and our attention spans have degraded to the same level of a gnat high on Red Bull, we'll summarise it for you.

Japan's transport ministry have received a number of opinions from the blind and vision-impaired about potential street crossing safety issues when hybrids are running silently on electric power alone. One of the potential outcomes from this is that Japan mandates artificial engine noise generation for hybrids and electric vehicles. Potentially, some like what the Brabus Smart Electric Drive is capable of.

Personally, I'm all for this. Not only does it help the vision impaired when crossing the street but it helps all of us. When you're chowing down mum's finest lamb roast, one's sense of flavour doesn't derive solely from the buds on your tongue but also from your sniffer. Similarly, your senses when you're out and about, whether it be as a driver, passenger or pedestrian, isn't limited to vision alone.

Say if someone's hooning around your neighbourhood, you're far more likely to hear the bark of their engine and exhaust than to see them drive past. I know that once I hear that familiar combination I exercise more caution, whether it be crossing the street or toodling off in my automobile. Also, in my 'hood there are a number of intersections where the sight lines for entering vehicles are completely obscured by parked cars. During the day then, unless I'm killing the planet in a Hummer, when I'm turning into those streets I'm forced to rely exclusively on my hearing to decide when it's safe to come out. And even with today's noise-generating petrol and diesel fired cars I've had a few close shaves. So despite never encountering the local Prius or RX400h at those junctions, I've always wondered about what it might be like with a future filled with near-silent electric vehicles.

That said, I'm open to any suggestions and comments — feel free to leave them in the comments section below, right after you've voted in the poll to the right.

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