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Fake noise will be added to new electric cars starting today in the EU

Fake noise will be added to new electric cars starting today in the EU


A safety feature for pedestrians

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Photo: Sean O’Kane / The Verge

All new models of electric cars sold in the European Union must now make artificial noise under certain conditions, reports BBC News. Acoustic Vehicle Alert Systems (aka, AVAS) will need to be installed in new models of hybrid and electric cars introduced from today onward, and all existing models by July 2021. With an AVAS installed, vehicles will need to make a sound while traveling under 12 mph, or while reversing.

Due to the absence of an internal combustion engine, electric vehicles can be a lot quieter than their gas-powered counterparts. However, this lack of noise can mean that they pose a danger to other road users, especially people who are blind or partially sighted. In a written submission to the British Parliament from November 2017, the charity Guide Dogs pointed to research that says electric and hybrid vehicles are 40 percent more likely to be involved in an accident which causes injury to a pedestrian. 

The US is introducing similar laws next year

Different manufacturers will be able to decide exactly what their AVAS will sound like, but the EU’s legislation says that the sound should be similar to (and not louder than) a traditional combustion engine. It should also give pedestrians an idea of what the vehicle is doing by, for example, synchronizing with a vehicle’s speed. Jaguar has already revealed what its I-Pace will sound like, and Nissan announced a concept vehicle back in 2017 that “sings” as it drives.

The EU isn’t the only regulator that’s introducing fake noise rules around electric vehicles. In the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will require that all hybrid and electric vehicles emit artificial noise by September 2020, although they’ll have to emit the sounds up to the slightly faster speed of 18.6 mph.