The silent approach of the Prius’ hybrid-electric motor is legendary.

And by legendary, I mean it’s pretty incredible that a mundane fact about the Prius’ (lack of) noise has successfully managed to percolate pop culture.

Fans of the TV show The Office will, of course, realize that I’m talking about how this quietly creeping car was turned into the weapon of choice in modern TV duels.

“The Prius is silent if he keeps it under 5 mph. He deserves the win.”

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But all this hilarity about the not-a-peep Prius will soon be drowned out by the news that, as of next week, Toyota will be adding an artificial engine noise to third-generation Prius sold in Japan. Toyota has promised to follow suit in the U.S. but didn’t say when.

The aim is to “alert but not annoy” pedestrians when fleets of oncoming Prius are bearing down on them (and possibly pinning them against hedges?). The noise will kick in automatically when the electric engine is running from zero to about 15 miles per hour and will simulate the roller-coaster pitch of an accelerating vehicle.

What this really means is that future duelers will have to find themselves another weapon.


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