The discussion over whether electric vehicles should come with warning sounds has been going on for what feels like forever - seriously, it's been so long we've forgotten amazing little tidbits like this - but that doesn't mean the whole thing is solved. While the US has required EVs to emit a generated noise at low speeds since 2011, Europe only been discussing a similar system, the "Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems" (AVAS) all these years. This week, the European Parliament made a decision.

By 2019, automakers in Europe will need to have their EVs emit a sound to alert blind (and, we suppose, the smart-phone-addicted) pedestrians to their presence. The rules were ushered through with the help of Liberal Democrats, the Daily Mail says, and a spokesman for that group, Chris Davies, said, "The acoustic warning devices will make a sound very similar to that of cars with a regular combustion engine so that people will be able to clearly hear these vehicles, allowing them to judge how safe a road is to cross." The rules don't specify the kind of sound, just that they will need to be an "adequate sound generating device." This should give companies like Daimler room to keep the variety of sounds in its plug-in vehicle lineup.

In an interesting twist, the new legislation will also force traditional combustion engines to be quieter. Specifically, they have to emit 25 percent less noise. We're not sure how this challenge will be met, but the EU is concerned about excessive road noise. A 2011 reports called "Quiet Please" (PDF) said, "If the noise levels are above the recommended levels, exposed people are likely to experience negative effects on their health and wellbeing." Negative consequences include sleeplessness, disrupted learning and increased stress.


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  • 47 Comments
      DMac
      • 8 Months Ago
      See CBS knew what they were doing with the Tesla sound!
      Spec
      • 8 Months Ago
      This is the Harrison Bergeron story for cars.
      Avinash Machado
      • 8 Months Ago
      Sigh.
      Actionable Mango
      • 8 Months Ago
      I propose legislation to make pedestrians louder, bicycles quieter, trains louder, planes and monorails quieter, subways quieter, helicopters louder, boats louder, gliders quieter, ambulances louder, and delivery trucks quieter.
      johnnythemoney
      • 8 Months Ago
      Non-impaired people should simply pay attention when crossing the street, while those who simply can't see a car coming, well, don't tell me in everyday traffic you can actually figure out which car is closer and incoming faster until it's too late. As RC said, air pollution doesn't make sense at all.
      thecommentator2013
      • 8 Months Ago
      EUdSSR. That's the correct term.
      GreenDriver
      • 8 Months Ago
      I drive a PHEV and an EV and pedestrians walk in front of me all the time, often looking the wrong way. Then again I live in DC where people seem to have lost the fine art of listening.
      Exooc news
      • 8 Months Ago
      for all nay sayers I placed video I made of bmw i3 (non rex) as it doesnt have sound generator in low speeds as nissan leaf or tesla s etc... https://plus.google.com/105427389435590421024/posts/gkaG73Q8oMS Only what you can hear, when iphone is near the car, is cooling air fan.
        DarylMc
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Exooc news
        Hi Exooc Thanks for the video. Your verdict wasn't clear. Not noisy enough to be safe at low speeds? Some ancillaries on ICE cars are quite noisy. Perhaps noisier than the engine. That could apply to EV's as well. If the condenser fan is roaring I cant see any need for George Jetson sounds. Nor when tyre, wind or drivetrain noise kicks in. It has always been my opinion that it is preferable for the manufacturers to address whether there are any risks from a silent vehicle. If any added noise is goofy or obnoxious then their vehicle is directly affected so they need to come up with acceptable options. But if the vehicle proves to be a danger then governments will be forced to come up with ideas which may be even less palatable. I think disabling safety systems as some suggest is foolish and that is why the manufacturers need to get any noises right and consider all aspects of safety before governments step in and mandate something. This discussion has happened here before. Anyone who is upset and thinks I am suggesting EV's should be louder than an ICE need not reply. For the sake of the future they just need to not be in the news accused of killing people due to lack of noise.
          DarylMc
          • 8 Months Ago
          @DarylMc
          I'm not aware of that happening but it needs to stay that way.
      Patrick
      • 8 Months Ago
      The last two sentences can also be applied to new born babies.
        rls498
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Patrick
        Good point. You may be onto something,............a newborn baby as an "acoustical warning device" for those electric vehicles. Clever solution.(LOL.) The cries of an unhappy baby are hard, if not impossible, to miss or ignore. While an artificial noise would work well for the blind, it will do nothing for the ever increasing numbers of "walking smartphone zombies" among us. A baby, "AWD" might get through to this group; since humans are, by nature, "programmed" to respond to these cries for attention. Also, this is a universal type of verbal communication, understood by all, regardless of language, location, or culture. Could work..........LOL ;)
      SloopJohnB
      • 8 Months Ago
      air horns on EVs sounds like (pun intended) a good solution…..
      Willy
      • 8 Months Ago
      Can ev emit laser sounds like, "pew, pew?" Or adults in Peanuts, "womp, womp" voices? That be great! And current ic cars are fairly quiet already. Only aftermarket or some sports/supercars are louder. That or Harleys
      jebibudala
      • 8 Months Ago
      EV's should have the garbage truck backup beeper installed, and enabled at all times.
        tagberto
        • 8 Months Ago
        @jebibudala
        So they sound more like your mama backing up? ;)
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