Electric car owners 'should be able to choose vehicle sounds'

18 Sep 2019

Electric car owners 'should be able to choose vehicle sounds'

Quiet electric cars should allow their owners to choose the noise their vehicle makes in a bid to protect the blind and other vulnerable road users, according to one organisation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US has pointed out that the new generation of green cars is so silent that they pose a danger to those who may not see or hear them coming, including pedestrians.

As a result, it wants to see carmakers in the future fitting a generated selection of sounds to their new models that motorists would be able to choose from each time they get behind the wheel.

It is also asking the public in the US what types of sounds they think should be installed - although, sensibly, the road safety body has suggested there should perhaps be a limit to the number of fake sounds available.

Presumably, that's to stop drivers insisting upon having bizarre noises emanating from their cars as they do the school run and pop to the shops. Already, helpful suggestions on sounds to arise from Twitter include a stampede of bison, the pop song 'Never Gonna Give You Up' and a person screaming, which tends to be the type of thing to happen when you ask the public for help.

The NHTSA does have a point though, as studies have shown that electric cars can be practically silent at speeds below 19mph - which is when they are most likely to be around vulnerable road users.

Rules have already been finalised that will require green cars to emit sounds at low speeds, which will come into effect in Europe in 2021. Here, the inclusion of warning systems became compulsory on new vehicles made after July 1st 2019.

Meanwhile, carmakers are already working on the issue, with Volkswagen revealing its ID.3 vehicles will come pre-installed with fake sounds for low speeds next year.

Mercedes EMG is working with Linkin Park to create its own distinctive repertoire, and Nissan is trialling a choral element for its electric engines.

What sounds would you choose on your green car?