If we’re talking about the likes of the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight, we find them a danger to our sensibilities as they are unpleasant to drive. If you simply want to get from A to B economically that’s fine, but the driving experience is none existent. Still lots of people just want transport, not a ‘Drive’.
But this is about the problems that are starting to arise when Hybrids (and EVs for that matter) are running ‘Silently’. And with sales of Hybrid cars rocketing – particularly in Japan – it is causing concern to the authorities.
So the Japanese Government has set up a panel to investigate the problem, consisting of consumers, vision-impaired groups, the police and representatives from the car industry. And the consensus seems to be that Hybrid cars need to make a noise to protect pedestrians – particularly the vision-impaired.
But there is already a solution for this, developed by Lotus to impart traditional car sounds in to Hybrid and Electric cars. Known as Lotus ‘Safe & Sound’ it uses speakers, microphones and some advanced processing to deliver a quite cabin but to also simulate the sound of a combustion engine outside the car.
This is obviously a real problem, which will have to be addressed. But with Lotus in the lead with this technology it could be a real money-spinner for the boys from Hethel. So far, despite the Safe & Sound technology from Lotus being made available to other car makers, none have taken it up.
That could be about to change.