Nissan LEAF Sound Revealed


Thats the good news. The bad news is that Nissan engineers have possibly discovered the worst sound on earth. (Listen and watch the LEAF squealing at the bottom of the thread)

Nissan has dubbed this sound as the “”Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians” system, I’m going to call it the “may harm nearby aquatic wildlife sound.” This audible warning (to never again go out into public) will debut this fall in Japan on the Nissan Fuga, which is a hybrid.

Official description of the sound from Nissan – “The system makes it easy for those outside to hear the vehicle approaching, but the sounds do not distract the driver and passengers inside. Thus, the needs of pedestrian safety, as well as driver and passenger comfort, are met. The sound system is the first of its type to be introduced by an automaker.”

“The sine-wave sound system sweeps from 2.5kHz at the high end to a low of 600Hz, an easily audible range across age groups. Nissan worked to avoid a sound range that would add unnecessary noise to the environment (around 1,000Hz).”

Depending on the speed and status (accelerating or decelerating) of Nissan LEAF, the sound system will make sweeping, high-low sounds. For instance, when Nissan LEAF is started, the sound will be louder, so a visually impaired person would be aware that a nearby car was beginning operations. And when a car is in reverse, the system will generate an intermittent sound. The sound system ceases operation when Nissan LEAF tops 30km/h and enters a sound range where regular road noise is high. It engages again as Nissan LEAF slows to under 25km/h.

The system is controlled through a computer and synthesizer in the dash panel, and the sound is delivered through a speaker in the engine compartment. (Fortunately) a switch inside the vehicle can turn off sounds temporarily. The system automatically resets to “On” at the next ignition cycle.

Forward Sound Video:

Backwards Sound Video:

Info: Nissan Media

23 Responses

  1. mike says:

    I don’t think the sound is that bad at all, actually, but I wonder how loud it is – the reverse sound could be quite obnoxious if it was loud enough.


  2. SteveS says:

    I hope the air conditioner works well, because I don’t think I will be having my windows rolled down much.


  3. Well, at least you can turn it off ‘temporarily,’ I’ll have to shoot Nissan a note and try to get the details on that little tidbit. It sounds like it disables it for the length of your journey, or until you reactivate it. Hopefully that is the case.

    I imagine it will just be a toggle switch for now. Once the Motor Safety Act goes through this summer and the NHSTA puts together the standard (and starts to enforce it-likely for MY 2013s) the function probably just gets deleted at that point and you are forced to put up with it.

    I can’t see the on/off survive US regs down the road.


  4. Demetrics says:

    Let it be said, here and now…the LEAF officially starts a movement and revolution for the auto industry hence forward. As a ‘from-day-one” loyalist, I am beyond ecstatic that it’s my company, Nissan, that’s the pioneer for all others to copy, emulate and envy.


  5. Ricky says:

    Not a fan of the sound at all either, but news like this is great because it shows the car is coming and coming fast.

    We need a warning sound to get out of the way of all the press releases.


  6. curt says:

    I found some pdfs that Nissan just released with more Interesting information. The car is always connected to the web through the cellular network and monitoring of energy usage and ability to reduce it looks fairly extensive.

    Below are the links to the pdfs:


  7. Page says:

    How legit are those videos? They appear to be the ones from the 2009 launch with the sound dubbed on top.


  8. Page says:

    And they are posted by someone on YouTube called GM Volt.

    I call HOAX.


  9. Very legit. I dug them out myself from Nissan’s site. They used stock footage and put the sound on top of them.

    The Nissan media site was really slow, I asked Lyle @ to host them for me, because I was out on the road. He did so graciously (and then also wrote a post about it, heeh)

    /mystery solved

    Here is the source:


  10. Eletruk says:

    Yea, I call BS on the sounds too. They don’t match real audio as there is no ambient background noise and it doesn’t accurately track vehicle motion. If you watch it, it just doesn’t ‘feel’ right.


  11. Well, I think it is obvious that those are not road audible recordings from that clip.

    I think Nissan just wanted some video demonstrating the motion of the car coupled with their recorded sound that they will be putting in the car. Hear the sound…show the car if you will.


  12. Yanquetino says:

    This is the first BIG mistake that Nissan has made with the Leaf. The whole idea of making cars noisier is overkill, like hanging a picture nail with a sludge hammer. There are other, BETTER ways of accommodating blind people.

    To mention only one that makes much more sense would be to have paired transponders in cars and white canes that cause the LATTER to vibrate and/or emit a sound when a “silent” car enters a certain proximity. In other words, warn the BLIND of the potential danger, but do NOT add the cacophony of our streets for everybody else!

    Moreover, emitting a sound at under 18 mph does nothing to protect a much larger percentage of the population: the deaf.

    IMHO, the best solution is the one that GM already implemented in the EV1 years ago, and is currently planning to install in the Volt. That system is programmed so that, if drivers flick their high-beam lever at under 18 mph, the lights not only flash (to warn the deaf) but a speaker emits a friendly “chirp” (to warn the blind, pedestrians with earphones, etc.). That system WORKS, as former EV1 drivers will attest. Yet is doesn’t add to noise pollution every time you turn a corner, slow down for school children at a crosswalk, enter a driveway, come to a stoplight, or go through a carwash.

    C’mon, NIssan: listen to your customers –rather than special interest groups and lobbyists who have never even driven a “silent” EV. The driver-controlled “lights/chirp” solution is the one your Leaf deposit holders prefer:


  13. David Inglis says:

    Again the Japanese ‘miss the plot’ and yet another marketing angle. I’d have the vehicle sound like a normal car where, if so desired, at the press of a button, the driver can make the car sound like a sports car. The technology exists today where depending upon the engine load and throttle angle (using the fuel injection map sensor) you could apply a throaty sound at the front of the car and a raspy sound at the rear. Nissan have produced this ‘silly’ new sound because they believe customers will who purchase such a vehicle will wish to be identified differently to other road users. Such a silly sound will ensure many potential buyers keep well away – I for one wouldn’t want to be ‘heard’ in one of these!


  14. ROB POWELL says:

    My Prius and my Escape hybrid make no noise at all at startup. This is not fair to LEAF owners! Why single out the LEAF? Put the sounds on ALL cars or none at all. Alternatively, put the sounds on their own circuit, and give us the option of removing the fuse.


  15. ROB POWELL says:

    David is right! I might even pay to have it sound like a Harley-Davidson!


  16. Ergonomist says:

    Electric cars should make a sound any time they drive. Just like ‘normal’ cars. Not only blind people rely on their hearing to detect a car. Everybody with normal sight uses hearing to detect riding cars, though that will be often not a conscious effort.
    We do not have a car, I cycle a lot in our village, and every time I turn at a corner I try to hear if there is a car around the corner coming towards me. The same applies for anybody who wants to cross a street: view and sound are redundant coding for an approaching car, and the sound unconsciously adds to the perception. Perception would be less without it.

    Probably this is even more of an issue in a place, city or country where people walk and cycle a lot. But it should really concern us all.


  17. LeRoy says:

    I agree with Ergonomist, the problem is real, and having the car emit a sound at low speeds is the best solution I’ve heard.

    Having blind people’s canes emit a sound is not sufficient for several reasons:

    – You can force all blind people to buy new canes just because someone might drive an electric car nearby.
    – The detection system for the cane would need to be standardized for all EVs and hybrids, and that would take agreement from too many parties.
    – Almost everyone, not just blind people, use sound to warn them of an approaching vehicle.

    Also, having a manual switch to turn on/off the sound is less effective because it depends on the driver to do this, and most people will neglect to do it until it’s too late.

    The sound itself could probably be improved, but I don’t think any one sound would meet with everyone’s approval, and this isn’t that bad of a first attemp. Also, you don’t want it to be completely customizable because you want a sound that’s recognizable as a car sound.

    I like the idea of having it sound like a real car, and maybe changing the backup sound to be more like the standard beeping sound that trucks make when they backup, but personally, I don’t think we need the sound of loud sports cars or Harleys.


  18. Jaime K says:

    I am not trying to be mean at all, but I am tired of catering things and tweaking things just to help the impaired. I guess they will have to put auto braking on cars too, just in case those with Mental Health disorders decided to jump out in front of a car to end their live; this feature will automatically stop the car if anything jumps in front of the car. Seriously? Seriously? We should have giant flags on All cars too. So the hearing impaired can SEE any car approaching. Give me a break! Those without disablilities should have rights too!


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