All-electric Nissan Leaf to “Whistle” While it Works to Alert Pedestrians

On a number of occasions, Global Tech News has discussed a concern that appears to be growing among advocates for blind pedestrians. With the rise of hybrid vehicles which run nearly silent at low speeds and fully-electric vehicles, many blind pedestrians are concerned that they won’t be able to listen for typical audible cues present in modern internal combustion engines.

The NHTSA is already working on guidelines that would require hybrids and electric vehicles to produce sounds that can be heard by pedestrians at low speeds. However, Nissan it taking matters into its own hands with the upcoming Leaf electric vehicle.

The Nissan Leaf will use a sine-wave sound system that will “whistle” while the vehicle is traveling at less than 19 mph. According to Just-Auto, the sound system will sweep from 2.5kHz to 600Hz.

In addition to the artificial sound while driving at low speeds, the vehicle will also make intermittent sounds when put into reverse to alert people. And in a nod to traditional gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles, the Leaf will make a louder sound when first started up to alert pedestrians to the vehicle’s presence.

You can watch a YouTube video of Nissan’s system here.

Nissan has already sold of its initial allotment of Leaf EVs for the U.S. market (roughly 13,000 vehicles). The vehicle is priced at $32,780 before a $7,500 federal tax credit and can travel up to 100 miles on a charge.

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