As the onset of the electric car market continues the evolution of the electric vehicle is throwing up a number of substantial challenges, both in the field of technology and practical everyday use, which need to be addressed. As crazy as it may sound, one of the factors which has caught the attention of the Japanese government is the noise which electric cars do not emit!
Is your electric car a silent assassin?
As you might expect, because of the fact that many moving parts have been removed from electric cars they tend to travel in silence. Whilst for many people the ability to travel from A to B with reduced emissions and reduce noise levels is something of a godsend, it has proven to be a potentially fatal problem in the wider marketplace.
Is a silent electric car dangerous?
Next time you're walking down the street or crossing the road, take a second to think about how you know instantly that traffic is approaching. While you may turn to the left, then turn to the right and see a vehicle approaching, before you will have visual contact you will be to able hear a car approaching (or other vehicle) from a significant distance. Subconsciously your mind and your body will move to high alert with regards to your safety and you will take the necessary precautions, often without really thinking.
The new breed of electric vehicles are almost silent and as a consequence even the more able-bodied people around the world will have difficulty hearing a vehicle approaching before they have visual contact. The situation becomes even worse for those with visual or hearing disabilities as in many ways the noise of an approaching vehicle adds another level of danger to their reactions.
So what are the Japanese government doing about the problem?
The Japanese government has convened a Transport Ministry panel to look into the problem of silent electric vehicles and report on the matter before the year-end. It seems highly likely that electric car manufacturers, and hybrid car manufacturers, will be forced to introduce some kind of noise system into their vehicles to ensure the safety of both other road users and pedestrians.
This opens up a potentially interesting market for customised electric vehicle noise systems which is something that will not go unnoticed around the world!
Developments around the world
It has also been revealed that the U.S. authorities are currently considering passing a bill through Congress which would stipulate a predetermined noise level for any road worthy vehicle in the future. This would take into account the electric car market and hybrid vehicle market not to mention transport technology of the future. While there have been very few casualties reported as yet this is purely and simply because the electric vehicle market has yet to take off around the world and vehicle numbers are still fairly subdued.
Other safety aspects of the electric vehicle market
While the weight and strength of the body of any vehicle plays a prominent role in its efficiency and its potential market, the electric vehicle market is more susceptible to these particular elements. A heavy body kit will substantially reduce the efficiency of an electric powered vehicle and while a light body kit will increase the capacity of the vehicle itself there is a risk of reducing overall safety for passengers and drivers. Thankfully, the last few years have seen the introduction of lightweight materials which are also as sturdy, if not more sturdy, than the more traditional metal body kits of today.
One safety element in favour of the electric vehicle market is the risk of fuel fires which have been eliminated due to the fact that purely electric driven cars carry no fuel although hybrid vehicles will carry a reduced amount of traditional petrol, diesel or gasoline. With the best will in the world it is impossible to completely protect any vehicle from a potential fuel fire, something which has become more apparent as the number of fuel powered vehicles continues to rise on the roads today.
Where are we with regards to development of the electric vehicle market?
While there are many niggling elements to iron out, including the noise factor and other similar issues, there is no doubt that great progress has been made over the last couple of years in particular. Indeed, recently we saw the Toyota Prius hybrid vehicle come the bestselling car in the Japanese market, something which many people have highlighted as a significant turning point.
The confirmation that demand for hybrid vehicles has increased dramatically over the last few years, ably assisted by the ever rising price of oil, has caught the attention of electric vehicle manufacturers around the world and we should begin to see a serious increase in the number of vehicles available. This is a market for the future, a market which has been neglected for decades and a market which consumers have been crying out for.
As you would expect, governments around the world will seek to keep tight control of the electric vehicle market as a means of ensuring the safety of passengers and drivers as well as protecting their tax income into the future. As the better technologies continue to attract the attention of car manufacturers around the world we will start to see the emergence of a standard, or set of standards, for the electric vehicle of the future which should ensure a more focused investment of development funding.
Even though we all tend to look towards technological problems with regards to electric vehicles of the future there are a number of practical issues to consider such as the noise level emitted from traditional vehicles and electric vehicles. Our minds are conditioned to listen for vehicles approaching, often instigating a subconscious reaction, and this is something which the authorities have to bear in mind when setting regulations and standards for the future.
The fact that we are now looking at issues such as the noise of your electric vehicle shows that the market has grown and continues to grow into something which will take a significant chunk of the worldwide vehicle market. How quickly the electric vehicle market will develop remains to be seen but rather belatedly it looks as though governments around the world have now grasped the nettle and are becoming more proactive than reactive.