In mid-December, the U.S. Senate and House voted to approve a measure that would require hybrids and plug-in vehicles to emit a sound when traveling at low speeds to warn nearby pedestrians. The bill, called the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, requires that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets a standard for an alert sound that will allow pedestrians to easily detect a nearby moving plug-in vehicle. This measure only applies to vehicles sold within the U.S. and not those distributed to foreign markets.
German automaker BMW, though, is weighing in on whether or not to follow the lead of rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz, both of which have already begun developing unique sounds for upcoming hybrid and plug-in vehicles. In an email correspondence with Automotive News (sub. req.), BMW spokesman Tobias Hahn confirmed that neither the Mini E prototype nor the ActiveE concept feature a pedestrian warning system, but he stated that the German automaker has:
Our guess is that several other countries across the globe will soon mandate a pedestrian warning system and BMW will be left with no choice but to incorporate sound into its future plug-in models.Been looking into possible technical solutions for a while and would be able to add such a feature to our vehicles should this turn out to be a real problem. We are also cooperating with organizations for the visibly impaired in Germany.