Thanks to a new US rule, electric cars will have to make some noise.
Driving in complete silence is one of the biggest obstacles to get used to in an electric car. We'd prefer it if electric cars made some kind of noise during acceleration and some companies like Mercedes-Benz agree with us. Mercedes has even partnered with musicians like Lincoln Park to make EVs sound better. So far, car companies have been developing sounds for EV models in anticipation of government rule changes. The US, according to Autoblog, has just finalized rules on how EVs need to sound.
The US Department of Transportation will now require EVs and hybrids to emit alert sounds to warn pedestrians of their arrival. These rules were initially proposed back in 2010, but have been continually delayed. The finalized rules will require automakers like Tesla, Nissan and GM to add sounds when vehicles are traveling below 18.6 miles per hour. The goal is to prevent injuries among pedestrians, cyclists, and the blind. Even though the rules have been finalized, automakers have until 2020 to cmply. Automakers will have to add sound to at least 50% of vehicles by September of 2019, so it will be interesting to see how and when companies act on these new rules.
The biggest issue is that electric cars are very difficult to hear at low speed. Once they are above a certain speed, wind and tire noise eliminate the need for additional sound. The alert sounds will be found on 530,000 vehicles by 2020 and should prevent 2,400 injuries annually. The rules don't specify any particular sounds, so automakers may be allowed to program a few different sounds that can be selected by the owner. The NHTSA predicts this regulation will cost the auto industry $40 million annually, but will save $250 million to $320 million in reduced injuries. We can't wait to hear what electric cars will soon sound like. Elon Musk will likely have some fun sound options for Tesla.