Electric cars are gloriously silent, which means the noise from traffic is almost entirely eliminated. Instead of the noise of combustion engines, we get just the sound of sleek machines zipping around our roads. And also the sound of the screams of pedestrians who, expecting some auditory clues as to when cars are approaching, wander into the street and get hit. In response, the government is working to require electric cars to make some sort of noise.
In the Netherlands, the local Domino’s Pizza has added noises to its electric delivery scooters which consist of a human being making engine noises and occasionally yelling “Domino’s!” and “Pizza!” To be fair, it’s not 100% clear that this is not a joke, but even if it is, it exposes a horrifying aspect of the future of electric cars that goes mostly unremarked upon: A world in which we entrust our urban soundscape to the whims of large corporations bent on advertising.
Imagine if your Volt exclaimed “Buy a Volt!” as it sped past a dilapidated gas station. What if every delivery story loudly proclaimed the contents and quality of its goods as it approached your house? It could be a dystopian future beyond our wildest nightmares.
Before you dismiss this, keep in mind that carmakers have already stumbled rather badly at their attempts to come up with appropriate warning car noises. Over the summer, Ford tried out a variety of sounds for the electric Ford Focus, including our favorite, “The Transporter”: