TOKYO, JAPAN - Toyota Motor Corp. announced that on Aug. 30 it will begin selling in Japan an onboard device designed to alert pedestrians and others audibly to the presence of a quiet vehicle, such as a gasoline-electric hybrid.
The device will be available in Japan through authorized Toyota dealers and Toyota parts and accessories distributors for retrofitting on the third-generation Prius.
The onboard device automatically emits a synthesized sound of an electric motor when the Prius is operating as an electric vehicle at speeds up to approximately 25 km/h. The sound -- aimed to alert but not annoy -- rises and falls in pitch relative to the vehicle's speed, thus helping indicate the vehicle's proximity and movement.
The device is designed to meet Japan's new Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism guidelines for hybrid and other near-silent vehicles.
Toyota also plans other versions of the device for use in gasoline-electric hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles as well as fuel-cell hybrid vehicles planned for launch.