A completely silent EV could spell trouble for pedestrians, and Canto is Nissan's solution to that problem.
EVs don't make much noise, so it's up to automakers to give pedestrians a hint that there's an electric car moving around. Nissan 's solution is called Canto, and it sounds like the future.
Canto takes its name from the Latin translation for "I sing," and while there's no actual song, it's an important noise from a safety standpoint. Vehicles that operate silently pose hazards for pedestrians, so Canto will provide a soundtrack that alerts those around it.
It sounds pretty pleasant, with a soft beeping giving way to a rising crescendo when the vehicle begins moving. Sounding nice is a necessity because EVs do a great job of reducing noise pollution, and replacing that silence with something annoying would run counter to that. When the noise ceases will depend on local regulations -- it's 19 mph in the UK, but in other places, the noise can cut off around 12 mph.
Nissan is no stranger to adding noise to its EVs. The original Leaf EV had the rather poorly named Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians, and while helpful, it doesn't sound as cool as Canto. As Motor1 notes, Mitsubishi has a similar system on its new Outlander PHEV, as well.