Listen to Nissan’s new, fake sound for electric cars

Driving an electric car is usually a stress-free experience, but talk to anyone who drives an EV around town, and they’ll tell you about the same phenomenon: people always seem to step in front of the vehicle.

EVs might be great for the environment, but their lack of combustion engine means they’re also extremely quiet, and that’s problematic for pedestrians. Most people listen and then look when crossing the road, and that means they’re often caught out by electric vehicles.

It’s an example of society catching up with technology – but it’s also an extremely dangerous issue that’s only going to get more common. And that’s why Nissan has come up with a solution; electric cars that sing.


Nissan has developed a new sound that’ll be made by its electric cars to alert pedestrians – and it sounds like something from The Jetsons. Called Canto – from the Latin Cantare meaning sing – the new sound was debuted at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. Nissan says it’ll be activated at speeds of up to 20 to 30 kph, “depending on marketplace requirements.”

Nissan hasn’t revealed how the sound is made yet, but it’ll probably come from hidden exterior speakers.  

“An important element of Nissan Intelligent Mobility is how the vehicle integrates with society, and a crucial component of that is sound,” said Daniele Schillaci, executive vice president for global marketing and sales, zero-emission vehicles and the battery business.

“‘Canto’ has been developed to help with pedestrian safety, as well as to provide a distinct Nissan sound – one that is energising and confident, authentic to our brand and representing our unique position in the electrified marketplace.”screen_shot_2017-10-25_at_10

Fake Noise

Canto solves a safety problem for EVs, and it’ll likely be an idea picked up by other car brands imminently. However, it’s not just about safety – it also presents an interesting brand opportunity. In a world without cylinders, there’s no fundamental reason all cars will have to sound different, so it’ll be interesting to see what sounds brands end up choosing for their EVs.

Will car makers make all their EVs sound the same, or will they give more pleasant or aggressive sounds to their flagship cars and sportier models? It’s an interesting time for EV makers and us consumers, and with sportier electric cars like the Honda Sport EV and Nissan Leaf Nismo on the way, it’ll be interesting to see what happens. 

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