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BMW May Add Artificial Sounds For EV Safety

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On: Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 10:42AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

BMW May Add Artificial Sounds For EV Safety

German automakers Mercedes-Benz and Audi have both started implementing the procedure to add brand-specific artificial sound to electric vehicles for safety purposes when traveling at low speeds. BMW, however, have not yet decided for sure what its course of action will be regarding EV sound.

According to Tobias Hahn, neither the Mini nor the BMW prototype electric cars are equipped with an active sound system with artificial noise.   

"However, we have been looking into possible technical solutions for a while and we would be able to add such a feature to our vehicles should this turn out to be a real problem,” he said in an e-mail reply to questions. “We are also cooperating with organizations for the visibly impaired in Germany."

BMW will begin testing its Mini E EV prototype in Europe, the U.S. and China as well as the Active E EV concept car based on its 1 series coupe, in 2011. BMW’s first EV production model will be launched in 2013.

Mercedes parent company Daimler AG has reported that the sound that was created to warn pedestrians of an impending EV approaching was not designed to mimic its combustion engine.

Audi will develop an acoustic note for its EV brand, but thus far, reports the design is in progress.

The Nissan Leaf EV has a sound that has been described as the sound of a monorail or a small jet plane. The U.S.-based National Federation for the Blind, in cooperation with the Detroit institute of Ophthalmology, helped to configure the final specifications for the Leaf’s artificial engine sound.

The M35h hybrid from Nissan luxury brand Infiniti links an in-car sound synthesizer with a speaker built onto the front bumper which is activated upon start up. The sound continues to 30 kph (19 mph), emitting a range of sounds at high and low volume levels.

After a vehicle reaches 23 kph, the noises generated by tires and wind is louder than the engine, so no artificial noise is necessary at high speeds.

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