Nissan’s ‘too quiet’ electric cars fitted with speakers

Sunday, February 6, 2011

WASHINGTON - Multinational automaker, Nissan, have fitted 29,000-pound Nissan Leaf with a speaker so that it makes a noise as it approaches.

Nissan are the makers of the first mass production electric car.

The engine of the Nissan Leaf, which will be launched in the UK next month, runs almost silently.

This wasn’t seen as a problem until researchers discovered that walkers could be entirely unaware of its impending presence and could step out in front of it.

So now a special speaker has been fitted in the engine compartment that emits a “low, whooshing hum” that those inside the car cannot hear but those outside can. If it proves successful, buyers might be able to programme in their own noises, raising the prospect of a Nissan that sounds like a Ferrari.

Nissan UK said the device had been installed to give pedestrians a “fighting chance” of hearing the car’s approach.

“Nissan have been carrying out research and have had electric cars running for 20 years now and we know that in an urban environment there is a problem with people not hearing them approach. Drivers have also told us people keep stepping out in front of them. We investigated this and did a lot of research, which involved testing beeps and whirrs that just irritated people. What we decided on sounds like a plane taking off in the distance,” the Scotsman quoted Tom Barnard, communications director, as saying.

“We’ve also developed the noise range to be heard by all ages, as a high-pitched squeal wouldn’t be heard by older people and would probably make us quite unpopular.”

Barnard added that, theoretically, any sound could be programmed into the device.

“I’m sure it won’t be long before people will put whatever sound they want in the speaker, so there’ll be people having V8 noises and jeep noises. For now we thought it would be best to go with a nice whoosh,” Barnard said. (ANI)

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