Japanese seek a voice for their cars
THE Japanese government is drawing up legislation to make a new generation of electric cars speak, beep or even mimic the sound of galloping horses or running water.
The introduction of hybrid and electric cars, which make very little noise, has raised concerns of an increase in accidents involving pedestrians.
A ministry of transport panel is working on guidelines for a minimum noise level for such vehicles and has invited ideas from the public for a standard warning noise. This has prompted suggestions for automated verbal warnings, the sound of an indicator ticking or even horses' hooves.
Nissan is among the companies to have set up project teams to explore the most appropriate sounds to attach to their new vehicles. A spokesperson said the company was not wedded to the idea that the noise had to be mechanical.
"For consumers as well, we are looking at all the possible options for enhancing the interaction with the car," according to the spokesperson, who said the noise could be music, the sound of running water or wind rustling the leaves of a tree.
She added: "When we design a car or a new system, there is a risk of pushing the envelope too far and alienating some of our audience."
The ministry is scheduled to decide this month on the noise cars will be required to make. However, despite all the deliberations, it is still expected to select the noise of a car engine. (© Daily Telegraph, London)