15 September 2009

When silence isn't golden

Silent running...

It's one of the things about #339 that I haven't really decided how I feel about exactly.

On the one hand, I think it's a hoot!

How do I fully convey what it's like to be able to pull out of my driveway early in the morning -- or come home really late, like at oh-dark-thirty hour -- and not make a sound?



Or when I cruise through a parking lot and the people walking in the lot that I drive by or follow (to get their parking space, of course) are just startled that this "car" is just there and moving -- and they just had no clue!


But then I started hearing/reading that people are complaining about all these "silent hybrid and electric cars."


OK. I can understand why blind pedestrians would be concerned about silent cars like 339. So, maybe it is a Good Thing(tm) that they're training guide dogs for the silent dangers. (Seriously!! Click the link!!!!)

And maybe under that pretense, I can understand why Japanese car-makers are considering "noisier" hybrids.

BUT... Why can't I help think this is a Stupid Idea?? I mean just look at Lotus' plan for external speakers on hybrid cars -- just so they can make noise to warn pedestrians when the car's in electric mode.

Seems extremely silly to me!!! Not to mention, an added expense and complexity 'cause now you have to program the computer to switch on the speaker only when the hybrid's gas engine shuts off.

And, oh, then you have to program it so the sounds that come out of the external speaker are loud enough at the right speeds...

And let's not forget about being able to program the "right" sounds...

Hmmm... The rumble of a V8 engine? The whine of a jet engine? Or should it be just a "beep-beep-beep-beep"?? Oh, I know... let's make it customer adjustable... You know, like cell phone ring tones!!!



Yet another annoying bit of noise that I would need to shut out mentally!

AND, it might come to next-gen electric cars. Fisker's already planning on it.

Still, it does seem REALLY STUPID to me. And, I'll admit, maybe that's because I'm such a "pioneer" and use to the idea of "silent running?"

I mean, I'm pretty much conditioned to rolling down my window and cranking up my radio when I pull into a crowded shopping mall parking lot. You know, so I can "make noise" as 339 rolls "silently" among the rows of cars and mindless shoppers -- those who are more intent on looking for their cars or struggling with their packages or yakking away on their cell phones or flirting and having fun with their girl friends rather than actually, you know, pay attention to where they're walking? (Honestly, you could be driving a big, rumbling, yellow, blue-smoke-belching school bus and they would be clueless that you're behind them!)

And I gotta question.. What's the point?

I mean, wouldn't a QUIETER world be an Even Better Thing(tm)?? Shouldn't we be working toward making ALL cars and other vehicles into electrical or hybrid vehicles? (You know, turning all those MILLIONS of vehicles in the U.S. into Earth-friendly transportation systems -- and "silent killers?")

And in all honesty, I can't wait for the day when I'm sitting in silence in stop-and-go-traffic because MY car isn't making noise idling (and wasting fuel!!!) AND because ALL the cars around me -- including that stupidly big, slow and ugly school bus filled with noisy brats! -- are ALSO silent because they're NOT idling and wasting fuel!!

And just try and imagine this: You're standing on the corner of Broadway and 42nd Street in Manhattan on a bright, sunny work day afternoon waiting to cross the street. And when traffic stops all you would hear is.... Silence!! No idling engines... No rumble of trucks and buses. I mean, they're there. But... SILENT!

Wouldn't New York... The WORLD... Be a MUCH nicer place???

So why are we still conditioning people to EXPECT cars to MAKE "noise"??? Why should something that is wonderful -- and wonderfully different -- be made "ordinary"??? Shouldn't we be doing the exact opposite??

But then, on the other hand... After all this "tirade" against adding noise to the silent-running electric car.... I gotta admit. I do sometimes miss the roar of a throaty V8 engine.

And to be honest, the geek in me is right now SCREAMING: "DUDE....!!! How cool would it be to be able to download a 'car tone' that makes 339 sounds like a Battlestar Galactica Viper?!?!?!?! Or maybe even like a UFO or a stealth fighter or an X-wing??? "

To make noise or not make noise??? Silent running or not-so-silent running???

I'm still torn....

Vive la difference!!!!

1 comment:

  1. 100% agreed and it also makes me nuts when I learn that noise may be required - reducing noise pollution is an EV benefit. As kids weren't these people told to look both ways before crossing a street and/or isn't that what a horn is for. I guess they could place a sensor in front of the car to set off a speaker if it detects dorks walking in front of the EV but let us keep things quiet for the most part. Oh, if the pedestrian is listening to an MP3 player then they are fair game.