With whisper-quiet electric cars set to proliferate, the motor industry is under pressure to give them an artificial noise for safety purposes, but should they sound like traditional petrol vehicles?
It is an unsettling experience watching a car drive around, hearing little more than the whisper of the wind it generates as it glides down the road.
There would have been little time to get out of its way had it gone unseen.
Such a moment is the essence of the debate over how electric and hydrogen fuel cars should sound in the future.
The answer could determine how different cities could sound in 10 or 20 years. The rise of the electric car presents a rare opportunity to tackle the persistent roar of traffic that many city dwellers are used to.
Electric and hydrogen fuel vehicles are inherently quiet. The sound of the tyres on the road is noisier than the engine and this could prove lethal at slow speeds for pedestrians and cyclists.
Motor manufacturers acknowledge there is a problem. Some, like Nissan, are already fitting speakers under the bonnets of these vehicles to emit sounds for the safety of other road users....
Click below BBC link to read FULL report by Nick Holland
The following comments were sent in by Philip Foster
A few days ago I heard, in all seriousness, a piece on the BBC about electric cars. The big issue was 'what noise should they make?'
Because at low speeds they are almost silent and for that reason rather dangerous to pedestrians. So, and you'll need to read this bit carefully, the EU is setting up a group (at enormous expense of course) to work out the 'best' sound the car must make and then make that sound a regulation to be obeyed by every EC manufacturer for the EU market.
Never mind the fact that electric cars are a total waste of a lot of money, that they are more 'carbon hungry' than conventional cars (as of course they use electricity generated by coal/oil or gas powered Generators) - not that that worries me - and are useless in any season but high summer for even a slow jaunt to the local garden centre.
Just imagine yourself high on the Yorkshire moors in a blizzard in your electric buggy (sorry car): power is dropping off fast as temperatures plummet (battery voltage is heavily temperature dependent). No heating because that would drain the battery further... you could well die from exposure.
Give me a petrol/diesel car any day. 100 years ago the issue was decided in New York. Electric cars versus petrol cars: petrol won hands down. Nothing much has changed in 100 years!