Nissan has revealed a new sound for its electric vehicles at the Tokyo motor show.

Dubbed Canto (from the Latin for ‘I sing’), the sound is designed to improve pedestrian safety by providing a greater aural indication of an electric car’s presence.

Nissan first created a sound for electric vehicles in 2010, with its Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians system, which was used on the Leaf electric hatchback.

Mitsubishi has a similar system fitted to its ever-popular Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid.

The new Canto system, though, is slightly more advanced. The sound is altered when the vehicle accelerates, brakes or reverses, allowing pedestrians to build a better understanding of what the vehicles around them are doing.

In the UK, current legislation means the sound will have to be activated at speeds of up to 19mph, but in some other regions the Canto system will only be emitted when the vehicle is travelling at speeds of up to 12mph.

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Although Canto is primarily a safety system designed to alert pedestrians, Nissan has had to balance the requirements of safety with the noise pollution considerations that help to make electric vehicles appeal – particularly in an urban environment.

According to the Japanese brand, Canto was developed to ‘enrich the aural environment of the typical city street’. This, the company claims, has been achieved by creating a noise that will be ‘clearly audible, without being overly disturbing’.

‘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,’ said Daniele Schillaci, Nissan’s global head of marketing for zero-emission vehicles.