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Friday, 3rd July 2009
In Business In Japan,

Japanese hybrid cars 'may be dangerously quiet'

Japanese car manufacturers may be forced to intentionally make their hybrid cars louder following concerns that the silent vehicles may be dangerous.

The country's ministry of transport is considering adding a noise-maker to electric car models such as the Toyota Prius after concerns were raised that pedestrians would not be able to hear approaching hybrids that are running on battery power.

Particularly at risk from the quiet-running vehicles are the visually impaired, according to an official from the ministry.

He told AFP: "Blind people depend on sounds when they walk, but there are no engine sounds from hybrid vehicles when running at low speed."

A government-commissioned panel is debating the issue and is due to put together a report on the matter before the end of the year.

Eco-friendly cars such as the Prius have seen increasing popularity in Japan over the past months, with hybrid models registering as the top-selling car in the country in both April and May this year.

Written by Graham McPherson