Ford Polls Facebook Fans For 2012 Focus Electric Noises (Video)

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2012 Ford Focus Electric launch, New York City, January 2011 - Bill Ford Jr.

2012 Ford Focus Electric launch, New York City, January 2011 - Bill Ford Jr.

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Whether you think they're needed or not, all electric and hybrid cars are going to be required to fit noisemakers so that they can't be missed at speeds of 15 mph or below.

To involve its fans, Ford posted four possible sounds for the noise that its upcoming 2012 Ford Focus Electric will emit as YouTube videos, linked to them on its Ford Electric Vehicle page on Facebook, and asked fans to comment.

As of this morning, Ford had received almost 400 comments (as well as more than 60 "Likes"). Almost 300 people have rated the candidates, as did more than 3,400 Ford employees in a separate poll.

All four of the proposed sounds are variations of electric-motor whirring, with a couple of them heading more toward a jet-engine whine.

Ford is testing the sounds, which it hopes will be "pleasing to customers," for both detectability (whether it can be heard) and recognizability (whether a listener understand that it means an electric car is near).

President Obama signed a law late last year that directed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to set standards for the mandatory, cannot-be-disabled, must-be-obtrusive noisemakers.

2012 Ford Focus Electric launch, New York City, January 2011

2012 Ford Focus Electric launch, New York City, January 2011

Enlarge Photo
Final implementation is likely to be required for cars starting in model year 2014 or thereabouts.

The regulation largely resulted from political pressure exerted by the National Federation for the Blind, which maintains that quieter cars pose a hazard to blind people.

The legislation, however, doesn't address the noise a car emits; it requires noisemakers for specific powertrain technologies, so the laws are not likely to apply to a gasoline vehicle like a Rolls-Royce Phantom, not matter how quietly it "wafts" past onlookers.

If you're curious, the four sound candidates are embedded in the YouTube videos at the bottom of this post.

Test them out and tell us which you prefer (or whether you don't approve of this new regulation in the first place). You can also post your comments on Ford's Electric Vehicle Facebook page.

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.

Sound A:

Sound B:

Sound C:

Sound D:


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Comments (17)
  1. sound B is the only one that is not irritating to me.

  2. "D" sounds okay, but I sill think this idea is stupid and the blind can get a seeing-eye-dog if they want to wonder the streets unescorted by a seeing person, or the car owner can blow their horn if they see a blind person wondering out in front of their car. ICE cars makes a terrible loud noise and they still back over and run over people and animals. This noise-maker is just another added expense to the car that I don't want to pay for...heaven knows those cars are already too expensive. .

  3. My vote is for 4, although adding the noise seems excessive and will drain battery needlessly. 2 sounds way too much like an ICE and is attempting to mask the electric scope. They should embrace it as the EV consumer will certainly do.

  4. Hey Ford,

    Why not make the sounds proposed a driver selectable feature?
    Owners can personalize the car a bit that way.

  5. I'm with you, Steve. Since the new law says we have to have those stupid noise-makers; I want to make mine sound like one of those old 1800's freight trains. That should scare the hell out of all of those millions and millions of blind people out there wondering the streets and highways.

  6. it does not matter that a person knows that an electric car is near, but rather that a car is near.

    to my knowledge, an ev does not do more damage than an ice.

  7. That's right, and ICE will kill you just as quick as a quiet EV will if it hits you, and since we will not be able to disconnect those noise-makers; I'll have a mechanic take a hammer and beat the hell out of it until it stops that nerve racking noise.

  8. I know car dealers will turn off your daytime running lights if you want, so they might be able to do the same for the noise maker. But keep in mind that they're not doing this to make the car sound stupid, I've decided to wait and see what an EV is like with a noise maker, I'd like to hear it from outside the car and then drive the car before I decide if I'm ok with it or not.

  9. If I had to pick one I'd pick 'D'. If I had to.

  10. a pair of 15"s and a 1500watt amp - they want noise, I'll give 'em noise!

  11. B is for me. Had a Mustang hint to it.

  12. I think that Ford should use the clip clop sound from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with occasional Neaps

  13. "A" is the best one, by far. I suggest that instead of a fake "space-shippy" sound we move toward a sponsored voice, maybe James Brown? Let's make our commute a little more interesting...

  14. Sound B is the best. And I don't think only blind people would be safer with the cars having a sound.

  15. I understand the danger of a silent stealth vehicle combined with the blatant stupidity of some pedestrians! That aside... why do three of those four options sound like a stinkin' jet engine!??! ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!! To be absolutely candid I think you should use a squeaky hamster sound! Honesty hurts, doesn't it?

  16. Squeaky Hamster Wheel Sound.

  17. It really doesn't matter if there is a noise maker on my future EV, I'll add a disconnect switch to turn it off. Anyway I rarely am going that slow anyway.

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