• Image Credit: Nissan

    Electric cars hardly make a sound when they whiiiirrrr, rather than roar or rumble, down the road. That is great for minimizing noise pollution, but not so good for pedestrians, especially those who have physical disabilities.

    President Obama signed a law that requires car companies, by 2017, to come up with sounds for EVs to ensure pedestrian safety.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a study, and while the agency found little difference in collisions over 35 mph — when wind and tire noise negate the difference in engine noise — at lower speeds, hybrids and electric vehicles are 37 percent more likely to hit walkers and 66 percent more likely to collide with cyclists than traditional gas-powered cars.

    • Image Credit: Audi

    So, Audi and other carmakers are working on sound effects, like ringtones, for electric cars to make them sound more like traditional vehicles.

    The German automaker, which is bringing out EVs they call e-Tron vehicles, is working on electronic engine roar. It isn't just a matter of recording the sound of an engine like the one in Audi's diesel-powered R8 sports car and blasting it from speakers. That approach doesn't come out right. Instead, when the driver presses the accelerator, the vehicle's sound is generated through a series of electronics that sounds a bit like a nice throaty sports car.

    Audi is working on family of sounds for each of its forthcoming electric vehicles to create differentiation.

    Click through to check out the sound strategies of other electric vehicles on the market now.

    • Image Credit: Ford

    • Image Credit: Toyota

    • Image Credit: Nissan

    • Image Credit: GM

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