Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hybrids: The Silent Killer

     Sometimes, Company, all it takes to reverse one's opinion of a subject, perhaps to make you think it is less insane and more of a great idea, is for one to have an experience with the subject.  And it can spin your world on its ear.  And that is what happened to me one day recently.
      When Nissan and Toyota announced recently that they were thinking about adding SOUND to their electric and hybrid cars that are about to come out, I thought that was the stupidest thing that I had ever heard of.  I have lived in cities and downtowns and high traffic areas and I know that cars are loud.  New Yorkers wouldn't be able to tell you that because they hear it all the time, it is just part of the white noise and cityscape, but believe me you notice when you aren't around it all the time.  Cars are just loud.  So I always figured that nice quiet, fuel efficient hybrids and electric cars would be nice and help eliminate some of the din.  But what the engineers at Nissan and Toyota discovered was that their alternative fuel cars were too quiet, and that pedestrians were doing crazy things like stepping out in front of them because they just didn't know that they were there.
     I, of course, thought that was fucking retarded.  But they had science to back them up.  And now I have personal experience to back them up and change my mind.  Not that I almost stepped in front of a hybrid car, but I was standing in a parking lot when one started up and drove away, and I didn't hear a thing.
     Scared the shit out of me.  One minute the thing was there, the guy was getting in, and the next moment and the thing was moving.  No sound.  No starting.  No nothing.  Just rest then motion.  I couldn't hear anything, and I wasn't exactly looking.  But I was standing next to it looking down and suddenly it was moving.  If I wasn't paying attention and the driver wasn't paying attention, I would have been a pancake.  A big, sexy, blogging pancake, but a pancake nonetheless.  It was so quiet and so lethal.
     So I have changed my mind a little bit.  Maybe a little bit of noise would be a good thing.  If I was in the car and wasn't paying attention I wouldn't know that it was on.  And that would be dangerous.  Maybe a little bit of a rumble, or at least some fake engine sounds.  That would be nice.  Something to driver and passenger and pedestrian knows that shit is going on.  Not necessarily a clicking or a beeping or something, but engine sounds.  Just like automotive engineers spend a lot of time worrying about how their car doors sound then they close, they should worry about the driving experience, and that includes being able to hear your engine.  And that is all I have to say about that.  Just another reason for me to dislike the Prius I suppose.

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