Toyota Motor will start selling devices that make engine-like sounds for noiseless hybrid vehicles. The devices will alert pedestrians when the vehicles are running at low speed, when they would otherwise make little noise.
Japan's transport ministry had requested automakers to develop a noise-making system to ease concerns that hybrid vehicles could pose danger to pedestrians that fail to notice them.
Hybrid vehicles are equipped with gasoline engines and electric motors and make little noise at low speed.
The device, to be installed on Prius models, consists of a speaker behind the left turn-signal. It makes a sound when the vehicle is moving at 25 kilometers per hour or slower. The sound volume changes according to the speed.
The sound is almost undetectable from inside the vehicle, and can be switched off when necessary, such as driving in a residential area at night.
Toyota Motor says it will start selling the device from August 30th at about 230 dollars each.
Mitsubishi Motor and Nissan Motor also plan to introduce a similar sound-making system for electric or hybrid vehicles later this year.