According to a recent Bloomberg article, the Nissan Leaf all-electric vehicle will be equipped with a noise generator that will add a futuristic sound to the silent vehicle at low speeds.
Nissan Motor engineer Toshiyuki Tabata was charged with recreating the sound of a gasoline engine to increase safety for blind pedestrians and to address the potential for U.S. and Japanese mandates for adding artificial sounds to silent EVs.
"We fought for so long to get rid of that noisy engine sound," said Tabata, Nissan's noise and vibration expert. With electric cars, "we took a completely different approach and listened to composers talk music theory."
The end result should end up sounding something like the high-pitched sound emitted from the flying cars (or Spinners) in the 1982 film "Blade Runner," which is set in the year 2019.
Tabata states that the sound generator would automatically start with the car and shut off at 12 mph, where tire noise--and in the case of HEVs, a gasoline engine--would generate a naturally noticable sound.