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Nissan Leaf  (Source: Nissan)
Leaf will get artificial "sound" sweeteners

On a number of occasions, DailyTech 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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By dtgoodwin on 6/14/2010 1:08:42 PM , Rating: 2
I was hit by a Lexus LX400H pulling out of a parking stall. The woman had been sitting in her vehicle as I approached to load my baby into my vehicle as well as groceries. She started backing up with absolutely no indication, it had appeared to me that she was waiting for someone, and hit me with her mirror. Fortunately, I just barely saw it coming and missed any significant injury - especially to my feet which were right in the way of her front tires as she turned toward my vehicle as she backed out.

RE: Useful
By dtgoodwin on 6/14/2010 1:10:03 PM , Rating: 2
Make that an RX450H.

RE: Useful
By UNHchabo on 6/14/2010 2:44:16 PM , Rating: 2
If she had been sitting in her car for several minutes, and you heard the engine idling, would it have changed your behavior at all? Personally, I still would have gone over to my car door, expecting that someone would look where they're going before having their car run over a strip of pavement. For me, the situation would not have changed whatsoever by the car having a hybrid or electric powertrain.

RE: Useful
By xmichaelx on 6/14/2010 4:17:52 PM , Rating: 1
You should be more careful -- especially when you have your baby with you. (BTW- The accident would be her fault, noise or no. The driver of any stationary car is responsible for making sure no pedestrians are about to get flattened when the car begins moving.)

RE: Useful
By dtgoodwin on 6/15/2010 10:40:05 AM , Rating: 2
I'm always very careful. There was no indication whatsoever she was doing anything other than sitting in her vehicle. I was there for 2 solid minutes standing beside my vehicle. I have good hearing, and am very aware of what's going on around me. Any other conventionally powered vehicle and I immediately would have reacted at the first indication of action. Yes, it was an unusual set of circumstances, but still proves the point that they can be more dangerous in completely silent mode.

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