Thursday, May 30, 2024

Singing Cars

Toyota Prius
I was in the Starbucks parking lot (big shock, I know) and I just got out of my car. The white, Toyota SUV parked beside me started backing up. And it was... singing. Almost sounded like whale songs. Then I realized that I didn't hear an engine running. So it must have been moving via battery power.

Upon a little research, I decided it was a Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV). The only fully electric vehicle (EV) Toyota currently sells is bZ4X and I was pretty sure it wasn't that.

PHEVs have both a battery that's larger than a hybrid's and smaller than an EV's. This allows the use of battery power for commuting or running errands around town but then you have an engine for longer range than an EV.

Then I bought my wife a Prius Prime PHEV. And when it's running on battery power... it sings. Just like that RAV4 Prime did. I bought it for her because she does the vast majority of her driving around town. She gets about 30 miles out of the battery and uses almost no gas (she went 1,000 miles before having to put gas in it on a trip). I calculated it costs 64 cents to fill her battery (at local power rates). That's about the equivalent of 64 cents per gallon if the car it replaces gets 30 miles to the gallon (which it did).

I've decided the singing is to warn people the car is moving when there's no engine noise. I think it only plays when the car is moving in reverse or under a certain speed. I know it sings when she's pulling into the garage at our house. I don't know if other EVs or PHEVs other than Toyota do this.

Maybe the singing is a form of communication between Toyotas. They are plotting the overtake of the world...

Maybe in the future you'll be able to choose what noise you what your EV or PHEV to make. You can buy sounds, sort of like they used to sell ringtones for cell phones.

What do you think of singing cars. Let me know in the comments below.

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