[ad#post_ad]Starting on Friday Nissan began allowing the first test drives of its new pure electric LEAF in Oppama Japan.

Nissan is letting 500 people to get behind the wheels of early LEAF prototypes. This group will include "media, Nissan shareholders, government officials, analysts and some of the first customers to place reservations for Nissan LEAF," Nissan said in statement (I was not invited).

In addition to allowing test drives, the company has also unveiled its new "Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians." This sound is required as part of pending US federal regulation for electric cars.

Nissan says "the system makes it easy for those outside to hear the vehicle approaching, but the sounds do not distract the driver and passengers inside."

The sound is actually a set of sounds developed in concert with cognitive and acoustic psychologists specifically designed to "ensure a positive experience for drivers, passengers and pedestrians alike."

The sounds are sine wave patterns that sweep across a band from 2.5 kHz at the high end to a low of 600Hz, and specifically avoids the 1000 Hz window at which conversation and most environmental noise occurs.

Nissan describes its operation as follows:

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. A switch inside the vehicle can turn off sounds temporarily. The system automatically resets to "On" at the next ignition cycle.

You can hear the sounds in the videos below:



Combined with early test reports out of Japan indicating LEAF ranges of as low as 47 miles in some tough driving conditions, will the additional presence of these wacky sounds hinder Nissan's quest to sell 500,000 LEAFs globally?

You be the judge.

Source ( Nissan )