Focus groups get used all the time for product design, but Ford is using more of an unfocused group to pick an artificially generated sound for its upcoming, ahem, Focus electric vehicle. Ford posted four potential sounds on its Facebook page and asked fans to pick which ones they prefer.
A US law enacted last January requires cars that are too quiet, such as hybrids and electric vehicles, to have some sort of artificial noise generator. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is in the process of clarifying the quality of noise that the cars should make, and when it should be in operation.
The four proposed sounds can be found at the bottom of this article.
Three of the samples use an electronic, spaceship-like sound, but option B sounds more like a conventional engine. The sounds may not have to run all of the time.
For US-bound Leafs, Nissan created a sound that only broadcasts when the car is running at slow speeds, as the engineers concluded that at higher speeds, the car generates enough noise on its own. And at higher speeds, a pedestrian probably wouldn't have time to react even with an artificial noise short of an actual siren.