Makers of mostly silent electric cars are coming up with synthetic sounds that will warn pedestrians, especially visually impaired ones, that the vehicles are headed their way.
Nissan worked with the U.S. National Federation for the Blind and the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology to come up with a sound for the electric Leaf sedan that can be described as a cross between a small jet plane and a monorail, according to a report in Automotive News Europe.
For the Infiniti M45h hybrid, Nissan created a sound-emitting system that uses a speaker built into the front bumper. The sound goes from high to low frequencies, depending on vehicle speed and whether the sedan is accelerating or decelerating.
Delphi Automotive is among several suppliers offering these sound-producing systems, known as "sounders." Its latest sounder can "reproduce melodies that represent the identity of individual vehicle manufacturers," says Delphi's press release.
Is this a good thing? Click here to listen to one melody that Delphi is proposing.
To my ears, that doesn't sound like a vehicle approaching. It sounds like someone's cell phone ring tone, a noise I'm inclined to ignore.
For that matter, if these noises can be customized by the automaker, how long before consumers start customizing them, too? Again, think ring tones, only louder.
What do you think? Should drivers be allowed to customize the sound of their electric cars?
Me, I would've been satisfied with a baseball card attached with a clothing pin. It worked on my bicycle. When I was a kid, pedestrians could easily hear me coming. But apparently that's not good enough today.