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.