Nissan Leaf and its quiet rally through a French village

Bjork's 1995 freak-out hit It's Oh So Quiet may have reflected the singer's oddball Icelandic sensibilities, but Nissan is making the concept of relative silence a French thing. The Japanese automaker recently promoted its all-electric Leaf by staging a mini-rally through what it called "one of the quietest villages in Europe." And with the exception of a couple damaged trash bins and a destroyed rear-view mirror from an old-school archway, the race kept the drivers wide awake but everyone in the Southern French village in Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur sleeping.

Nissan sent four vehicles on a five-kilometer jaunt through the village in the wee morning hours. Screeching tires and a couple booms notwithstanding, the company said everyone in town stayed snoozing.

There was a broader purpose to this exercise, of course, which Nissan blatantly admits was a stunt. Nissan was helping celebrate 19th Annual International Noise Awareness Day (INAD), which took place on Wednesday and highlighted the emotional and health issues as well as high blood pressure and insomnia caused by excessive exposure to noise. Check out Nissan's press release below, where you'll also find the video.




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NISSAN LEAF CELEBRATES INTERNATIONAL NOISE AWARENESS DAY WITH A NIGHTTIME "SILENT RIDE"

ROLLE, Switzerland – To mark the 19th annual International Noise Awareness Day (INAD), Nissan has taken to the streets of one of Europe's quietest villages during the middle of the night with a silent "ride" of its 100 percent electric Nissan LEAF.

The activity, complete with a start and finish line in Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur, was designed to demonstrate the noise reduction levels of the Zero Emissions car compared to traditional combustion engines.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states at least 13.5 percent of Europeans are exposed to road traffic noise at levels exceeding 55 dB, which is considered detrimental to human health*. The medical effects of noise levels include insomnia (50dB), obesity (50dB), psychic disorders (60dB) and reduction in life expectancy (50dB)*. As a result, Nissan has filmed a 'silent ride' to help support INAD in raising awareness about noise pollution levels across Europe.

The video stunt, filmed in one of Europe's quietest villages in the early hours of the morning, shows four Nissan LEAF vehicles racing around the backstreets at high speeds without waking anyone up. Members of the village were filmed while they slept to monitor their reactions.

The running noise of the Nissan LEAF engine is 21dB*, recording less noise than a ceiling fan (26dB) - which is way below the World Health Organization's night time noise target for Europe (40dB).

Launched by the Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC), INAD aims to raise awareness about the dangers of exposure to noise on hearing and health – including emotional and physical health problems such as impaired mental performance, high blood pressure and increased risk of motor vehicle injuries*.

The Center for Hearing and Communications Executive Director Laurie Hanin said: "International Noise Awareness Day was initiated by the Center for Hearing and Communication in 1995 in order to increase public awareness about the harmful effects of noise on hearing, health, and general well-being.

"As a result, many thousands have had their hearing screened and many more have been educated in the numerous ways to prevent exposure to hazardous levels of noise.

"It is exciting to see Nissan showing off the benefits of their all-electric car, the Nissan LEAF, in this video highlighting that as well as being friendly to the environment, it is also friendly to the community by reducing noise pollution. Congratulations and good luck in this endeavor."

Launched four years ago, the zero emissions Nissan LEAF continues to provide consumers with the benefits of an all-electric car – a quiet and dynamic driving experience, lower operating costs, the increased convenience of charging at home and less scheduled maintenance – at a price after tax incentives that rival comparable gas-powered vehicles.

Jean-Pierre Diernaz, director of electric vehicles, Nissan Europe commented: "One thing that surprises people most about the Nissan LEAF is the feeling of near silence, it is incredibly liberating and makes for a very relaxing driving experience. Most of the noise you hear when a Nissan LEAF is running at low speed in town is actually artificially created to help alert pedestrians to the vehicle's presence.

"Electric vehicles like the Nissan LEAF will play a very large role in the move to create 'smarter cities' worldwide – cities that aim to create smart solutions for a range of city problems from air pollution to traffic congestion. The goal is to build cities like these where people drive electric vehicles like the Nissan LEAF and the new e-NV200, which will launch in Europe in June. This is a concept that Nissan supports whole heartedly and aims to be a part of now and in years to come."

The United Kingdom, France and Italy are the countries worst affected by traffic noise during the day (levels higher than 55dB), resulting in higher risks of cardiovascular diseases and premature death*.

Europe's nosiest countries in the day*

Country / Number of people exposed to noise levels over recommend 55dB level

1. United Kingdom / 5 million
2. France / 3.8 million
3. Italy / 1.6 million
4. Germany / 1.5 million
5. Spain / 1.2 million
6. Switzerland / 749.6K
7. Belgium / 477.1K
8. Austria / 464K
9. Portugal / 436.8K
10. Czech Republic / 363.8K

Europe's nosiest countries at night*

Country / Number of people exposed to noise levels over recommend 40dB level at night

1. United Kingdom / 3.8 million
2. France / 2.6 million
3. Italy / 158.2K
4. Germany / 911.8K
5. Spain / 773.6K
6. Belgium / 457.7K
7. Switzerland / 289.9K
8. Czech Republic / 273.6K
9. Portugal / 259.2K
10. Austria / 233.9K

Notes to Editors

1. According to the World Health Organization (WHO, excessive noise seriously harms human health and interferes with people's daily activities at school, at work, at home and during leisure time: http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/noise

2. Summary of effects and threshold levels for noise levels exceeding 50 dB according to the World Health Organization: http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43316/E92845.pdf

3. The running noise of the Nissan LEAF engine is 21 decibels

4. According to British Medical Bulletin occupational noise exposure has also recently been linked to greater risk of death from motor vehicle injury http://bmb.oxfordjournals.org/content/68/1/243.full

5. According to the European Federation for Transport and Environment, each year 245,000 people in the EU252 suffer cardiovascular diseases provoked by traffic noise:

6. http://www.eeb.org/publication/documents/EEB-TAndEnoise_factsheet_final_000.pdf

7. Europe's noisiest countries in the day: (no. of people exposed to traffic noise over recommended 55dB limit. NOISE viewer: http://noise.eionet.europa.eu/viewer.html

8. Europe's noisiest countries at night: (no. of people exposed to traffic noise over recommended 40dB at night) NOISE viewer: http://noise.eionet.europa.eu/viewer.html