Saturday, 21 November 2009

'Silent' electric cars should carry cowbells

'Silent' electric cars should carry cowbells

Electric cars, so we are told, may well be the future of motoring. It is entirely possible. In the form of the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight we already have two petrol-electric hybrids that can be used for everyday driving. The electric Tesla Roadster is proof that the future of the sports car is secure. General Motors will launch the Volt and Ampera petrol-electric hybrids within the year. The technology is advancing all the time and I feel sure that the day is not too far away when we will see more and more purely electric vehicles on every street.

However there is a problem with fully electric cars, above all others, that we may have overlooked in our excitement. As they do not have a traditional internal combustion engine with moving parts, or an exhaust from which gas escapes, they will not make any discernible noise when they are going along. So how are pedestrians to know when one is coming? It's all very well to want to save the planet and to lessen our dependency on the fast-dwindling supplies of fossil fuels, but such concerns must surely pale into insignificance when compared to the worry of having an electric car hit you in the small of the back as you're walking down the street. Well, I can reassure you that the best minds are working on it as we speak. Most likely what will happen is a small but powerful loudspeaker will be placed somewhere on the car and it will produce the sound of a running engine, so that you may hear it coming as you would any normal car.

I can't help but think, though, that this is all a bit too obvious and unimaginative and I'm glad to see that some of our politicians feel the same way. So when the time comes for us all to be driving around in electric cars you'll know which is mine, for it will have a cowbell on it and be preceded by a man carrying a red flag.


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