An issue often debated when it comes to electric cars is what sound should they make. There are indeed legislative efforts underway to ensure EVs make some noise, to protect the visually impaired. Some manufacturers such as Fisker have gone so far as to engineer artificial engine sounds played through external speakers.
We often wonder, exactly what sound will the Chevy Volt make.
I previously had the chance to ask this question of Frank Weber, who is GM's E-Flex vehicle line executive.
He went on to describe what the sound will actually be:
"The sound of the car should be highly technical, but should have no relation at all to a combustion engine, it should be highly pleasing, almost imperceptible as to what's (actually) happening. I always compare the sound you would expect from the Volt is like when on spaceship enterprise you hear the doors close, or use the transporter. This is the type of character you would expect from power electronics, you cannot hear it, but the car would have its own sounds rather than imitating (a combustion engine)"
I asked whether GM was planning any artificial sounds on the Volt, with respect to the visually impaired.
Frank alerted to that and said "This is a different thing, we have something that's called a pedestrian friendly alert. You would activate it as a driver. It is more pleasing (than a horn) and you would activate it much like you would your high-beam. This is how you would use it below 25 miles per hour."
"The other thing that you have to do since the car is quiet, when you start it, today the experience today of turning on a conventional car is an important experience when it provides confidence power feedback, many things are happening psychologically in this moment. What we definitely will do is considering some of the competitor hybrids today are weak in that regard, is we will provide very clear and intuitive feedback from the car telling you what state it is in."
"I can't tell you more about it but it is in the process of being worked out."