One of the good things about hybrid and electric cars is that they are virtually silent when they are running on electric power. But it is also a bad thing because pedestrians can't hear the car coming. Well, Toyota is aiming to fix that with a noise-making device.
Toyota will begin selling the device for its popular Prius hybrid next week. It will emit a humming sound similar to the electric motor, only louder so people on the street can hear it. The aim is to "alert but not annoy," according to a Toyota press release. It rises and falls in pitch relative to the vehicle's speed to help pedestrians locate the car.
The device will cost $149, and will work on the third-generation Prius. Right now Toyota will only be selling them in Japan, but Toyota spokesman David Lee said the company plans to offer the device in other markets, including the United States, at some point in the future. However, he could not say when that might happen.
The device is designed to meet new safety requirements in Japan for gasoline-electric and other hybrid vehicles that are much quieter than traditional gas-powered cars.