Just had a lot of tweets about this after posting a link to the video below.
Here's my take on the 'silent menace' of electric cars. It's nonsense.
Bear with me.
Essentially, it's the drivers responsibility. Okay, you are a driver, sitting in a metal box that weighs close to a ton and you are driving through an urban area with pedestrians who may or may not cross the road in front of you. What is your first reaction?
I'll tell you what mine is, drive very, very slowly. Then, keep an eye on the pedestrians, they may step out without looking, they may assume they can't hear anything coming and step into the road. It happens every day and said pedestrians get hit by cars, busses, trucks and pedal bikes.
The nearest I've come to a pedestrian accident was when I was driving my Land Rover through the small market town of Cirencester and a young lad with earphones on walked straight across the road in front of me without so much as a glance. Thankfully I was driving my very noisy, very old Land Rover very slowly and I jabbed the brakes. No harm done.
I have discussed the silent nature of electric cars with two blind people, one an old friend who laughed at the idiocy of the sighted worlds assumption that he may stand on the side of a road and if he thinks he can't hear anything, just walk across. He used a lot of bad language so I won't quote him, but his first questions was, 'what about bikes.'
I've had a discussion with another blind man on audioboo and he suggested the situation he faces, walking along a suburban road with his guide dog and someone reversing out of their driveway doesn't see him and he has no audio warning of the cars approach.
That is the most reasonable thing I've heard and I think he has a point there and a reversing beep or warning sound would be very sensible. I have found the most difficult thing in an electric car is reversing out of a parking space in a garage or at a supermarket car park. I have to be very careful, I double check because at those speeds the car is as close to silent as any large moving object can be.
Once an electric car is doing more that 20 miles an hour it sounds exactly the same as any other vehicle, remember modern petrol and diesel cars are incredibly quiete when you think of what's happening inside the engines, thousands of loud explosions every minute. Brillaint and very costly technology has gone into making cars quieter and a good thing too.
So sure, let's have sexy sci-fi car noises on electric cars, but I honestly don't think we really need them.