We can already picture all the NVH engineers huddled in some back corner crying together. After all, they just find out that the duties they held of eliminating noises from cars for decades are about to be crushed by a new safety guideline that will put noise back into electric and hybrid vehicles.
Automakers, along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and advocates for the blind, have come to the conclusion that electric and hybrid cars need to make some noise as they motor whiz on down the road. Though an initial agreement has been reached, it could take up to three years to be finalized and become law, but that's politics for ya, eh? However, some of the proposed changes could wind up in the Motor Safety Act of 2010 if standards are agreed upon soon.

Here's an overview of the suggestions in the proposal. The NHTSA would create a standard for minimum/maximum levels of sound when a vehicle is operating in low-speed situations. The sounds cannot be customizable or randomly chosen from anything out there, which means that no hardcore rap or other potentially offensive sounds will emanate from EVs. The sounds will be pre-approved by the NHTSA on a vehicle-to-vehicle basis and owners will be able to select from a playlist of sounds associated with each EV.

Somehow, the noise coming from an EV is supposed to directly relate the vehicle's speed to nearby pedestrians. The new guidelines will make EVs noisy, which may in turn be a drawback for many buyers interested in serene, silent motoring. While EVs may still be zero-emissions, there's now a new issue of noise pollution to deal with... We're certain that some people won't be too thrilled about this, but it's always safety first, right?

[Source: CNNMoney]

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