• May 19, 2010
Brabus High Voltage EV concept – click above for high-res image gallery

Hands down, one of the few pleasures of driving a hybrid is cruising around in all-electric mode. There's just something that's undeniably cool about silently whisking along, but if a new auto safety bill makes its way into law, we can kiss even that one pleasure goodbye. A coalition of automotive manufacturers and advocacy groups for the blind have joined forces to make sure that silent-running vehicles will make more noise in the future. The logic is that the blind and other pedestrians are at risk of being struck by quiet hybrids and EVs. We can't really argue with that one.

If passed, the bill would have the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration propose regulations for an "alert sound" within a year and a half, and finalize the rules within three years. Drivers would not be able to turn off the noise. So far, there's no word as to how loud the noise would be or what it will sound like, but the technology already exists to make that sound signature variable – concept cars like the Brabus Smart High Voltage EV shown above can simulate the sound of everything from a buzzing bee to a good ol' American V8 with hidden speakers inside and outside of the vehicle, with the sound varying according to engine speed. If we absolutely have to be making a racket while we drive on all-electric power, we vote for sounding like George Jetson's daily commuter, but we're not exactly crazy about user-selectable EV 'ringtones,' lest one's daily commute become an auditory assalt of Star Wars Tie Fighters and clydesdales.



[Source: The Detroit News]


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  • 52 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times...

      Let mine sound like a TIE Fighter!
      • 4 Years Ago
      " Drivers would not be able to turn off the noise."

      With a soldering iron, I can turn off anything.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If this is such a big problem now, why hasn't EV noise (or the lack thereof) been an issue at all the golf courses or vacation and retirement communities where "golf carts" (NEVs) have been quietly stalking their prey for YEARS???

      And before you say those aren't like public parking lots, think about the possibly impaired or young, unlicensed drivers/pedestrians in those situations (I'm thinking vacation resort mainly) and the poor brakes/handling on those golf carts...

      • 4 Years Ago
      Before long people will be upgrading their sound generating system... make mine sound like a F-18 starting up.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @FStock

        haha. Yes. I'm thinking of a discovery channel special.

        Let me set the scene, a white prius in the middle of an empty parking lot and then a voiceover says "The prius's natural habitat is a yuppie neighborhood and for the longest time it was thought that batteries powered the silent operation. This was proven false as it was seen that the prius sustains itself on human flesh. Look, quick, the prius is about to sneak up on it's latest victim, stealthily stalking and creeping behind...."

        And so on and so forth
      • 4 Years Ago
      Glad to hear this; not too long ago, I almost got hit by an older lady driving a Prius while I was walking through a parking lot. With all the bad drivers out there, it would be nice to be able to hear the car when it's behind you, etc.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Why are you blaming her? Maybe your shoes weren't loud enough.
        • 4 Years Ago
        No redline, it's your fault for being in the same parking lot as a bad driver, you should know better.

        And safety features need to be removed because I think I'm a good driver!!!!!

        Also, bumpers need to be made of 2inch thick steel, because even though I'm awesome and avoid all obstacles, these damn lamp posts just attack my car whenever I'm not around.
        • 4 Years Ago
        use your imagination Rich

        ...it is possible to be careful, look around, etc. and have a car turn onto the path of road you are on, come up quick, and sneak up behind or to the side of you especially if it's a hybrid...it's not always the other persons fault
        • 4 Years Ago
        What on earth were you doing walking about in a parking lot without looking where you were going?

        It annoys me no end when people just waltz out in front of my car and expect it to stop within a couple of feet. Idiots!
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ Rich:

        She backed out of her parking space without looking where she was going; her path of travel was much wider than normal, and she almost mowed several other people down in addition to myself. None of us were in the middle of the aisle.
      • 4 Years Ago
      then again, im sure idiots like you also speed through a parking lot and expect everyone to dive out of your way.

      after all, you are in a car, you obviously have the right of way over pedestrians...like all the traffic laws say (sarcasm)
        • 4 Years Ago
        people like Rich are murderers for cyclists too...

        it's called a road bike because in almost 100% of states it is illegal to ride on a sidewalk, and bike paths are not designed for $1000+ road bikes they are designed for old people and kids on huffy's...people need a refresh on traffic laws for cyclists and peds

        the noise will also be good for cyclists, ride in a convertible with windows down, that's what it's like for a cyclist with the wind noise, it's hard to hear vehicles come up from behind

        *sorry for the tangent but have had some drivers try to kill me while cycling
      • 4 Years Ago
      I know this sounds really silly ... but imagine a Prius rolling up and the theme to Rocky is playing lol.

      Before you flame .. yes i know its just suppose to be a noise not a song .. but i am just throwing it out there.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Make it sound like a Ferrari V12 or a small-block Chevy and we may have something here.
      • 4 Years Ago
      No one's asking the most important question:

      WHY ARE BLIND PEOPLE IN THE ROAD??

      If they're in the road where a car can hit them, then they're jaywalking and not where they're supposed to be!

      Even if they COULD hear the car, they can't dodge a car going 30mph. This is completely stupid.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's funny but I was just thinking to myself "Hey Polly, you know what this metroplex of 6 million plus people needs? It needs more noise. It's just way too quiet around here" and BAM, here comes this article about our overlords mandating noisemakers on cars. Awesome.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So much legislation nowadays.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's really not surprizing at this point how dumb the general autoblog posters are.

      "You can barely hear ICE cars now anyhow!!"

      Yeah, but you can still hear them, even if barely, DUH.

      "This needs to be tested durf durf"

      It has, there are many reports about how hybrids in EV mode aren't heard at low speeds until it's too late.

      "Buht buht, teh tire rolling noise!!"

      Is inaudible at low speeds until the car is dangerously close

      "STUPID PEOPLE JUST NEED TO LOOK OUT FOR ME AND GET OUT OF MY WAY!!"

      Yeah, those stupid -blind- people, not looking out for you.



      PS. how many of you people whining about car noise now also demand 3000 HP engines that sound like tigers being put through a blender?
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Satn: Please post a news article where an EV has been in an accident where it clear that silence was the issue.
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