Archive for August, 2010

One of the distinctive features of a Prius is that when it is driving at low speeds in electric mode it is very quiet. So much so that pedestrians often don’t hear it coming. Turns out this is a growing problem.

Recent government data has shown that hybrids are twice as likely to be involved in accidents with pedestrians at low speeds compared with cars with conventional engines. As the number of hybrids on the road grows, pedestrian crashes are increasing at an alarming rate.

In response, Toyota yesterday announced a device that can be added to a third generation Prius (2010 model and newer) that will make a slight humming noise simulating the sound of a regular internal combustion engine. The device goes on sale in Japan at the end of this month, and will cost around $150.

Availability in the U.S. is still being studied, but look for this to be a growing issue as the number of alternative fuel, and therefor quiet, vehicles increases. Perhaps they could offer a device that hoots like a spotted owl.

There have been changes to the laws that effect HOV carpool stickers in California. Here’s a summary:

Yellow HOV decals will be extended 6 months until July, 2011, after which they will expire permanently. White HOV decals continue to be available for pure zero emission vehicles. A new category of decal will be offered for the next generation of alternative fuel vehicles, including plug-in hybrids. Up to 40,000 of these will be issued and they can be used until 2015.

You can read more about changes coming to CA HOV decals