Many of the electric cars I’ve test driven over the past year for our Green Overdrive show are immediately surprising because of one thing: they’re often times completely silent. But now after some concerns that silent electric cars will equal deadly electric cars, some auto makers are developing digital noises to add onto these battery-powered rides.
At a media event on Tuesday where Kleiner Perkins Partner Ray Lane received the keys to his brand new electric Fisker Karma, Lane drove the car around the parking lot, showing off the sound that the car makes. It sounded sort of like a digital representation of a jet engine — some people I chatted with thought the noise sounded cool, while others cringed a bit. But the noise is the standard option for the car, and the Karma actually has two silver speakers on the bottom of both sides of its back bumper that projects the sound to passersby.
Other car companies are still polling their potential customers and trying to figure out what noise would be suitable for their new EVs. Ford has been turning to Facebook and YouTube to test our four different sounds for its upcoming 2012 Ford Focus EV (see video clips below). Most of them seem somewhat off-putting to me, and if you look at Ford’s Facebook page there doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus on one that’s less annoying than the others.
What do you think? What about a custom option?