Two articles on electric cars

October , 2009

The Mercury News has had two interesting articles recently on the topic of electric cars.  This one, from Sept 17th, is a pretty good summary of electric cars that are coming soon, many made by big boys like Volkswagen, GM, Hyundai, and BMW.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find an online copy of the second article, but in some ways it’s even more interesting.  The title:  “Nissan to make electric cars hum”.

It turns out that electric vehicles are naturally very quiet.  And since people working on cars have been struggling to make engines quieter for decades, it wasn’t intuitively obvious that there was such a thing as too quiet.  But there is.  Pedestrians tend to expect cars to make some noise, and especially kids, the elderly, blind people, or those listening to iPods may not notice a very quiet vehicle.

So the Nissan engineers started thinking about sound, and what kind of sound to add.

“We decided that if we’re going to do this, if we have to make sound, then we’re going to make it beautiful and futuristic,” Toshiyuki Tabata, a Nissan engineer, said.  Then he and his team went out to consult Japanese composers of film scores.

Now that’s thinking about things in a new way!  I’m so happy they didn’t just make a recording of a throaty gasoline engine.  What they decided to do instead solves the problem in a much more interesting way.

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7 Responses to “Two articles on electric cars”

  1. But I’m on the edge of my seat. What sound did they decide to use??!

  2. They said it was a high pitched hum, somewhat reminiscent of the flying cars in “Blade Runner”.

  3. Sean K. said

    My goodness, a car that made that sound would be wonderful! It improves the ‘cool’ factor of the car in a way that might appeal to some additional customers, too (i.e. the ones for whom an electric car is not already sufficiently cool).
    And it would still be clearly identifiable as a vehicle, esp. as people would hear the sound moving.

  4. Quiet, in my opinion, will save lives. I think that people have gotten so use to counting on cars making enough noise when crossing the street that they may not check to see if a car or bicycle is coming before crossing. I think that will be a very fast learning curve that people will actually enjoy. If you think about people needing noise from a vehicle to protect them and the amount of time it takes a car to stop it is a recipe for disaster. I guess a good question to ask ourselves is; does silence increase awareness?

  5. Tnelson said

    Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will come back again – taking your feeds too now, Thanks.

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