Electric car owners could choose their vehicle's low-speed alert sounds

midian182

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

The NHTSA finalized rules in 2018 requiring all newly manufactured EVs and hybrids to emit alert sounds at speeds under 18.6 mph to warn pedestrians. In the agency’s updated proposal, drivers should be able to “select the sound they prefer from the set of sounds installed in the vehicle.”

Automakers were required to have the alerts in 50 percent of their “quiet” vehicles by September 1, and the sounds must be in every quiet vehicle by September 2020.

Electric cars are much quieter than vehicles with internal combustion engines, though tire noise, wind resistance, and other factors eliminate the need for an alert sound when traveling at high speeds. When moving at low speeds in locations such as parking lots, there’s the risk of unaware pedestrians walking out in front of the cars. According to the NHTSA, the low-speed alerts will help prevent 2,400 injuries annually.

The European Union will also be requiring new EVs to be fitted with noise-making devices. The Acoustic Vehicle Alert System, or AVAS, makes a noise like a standard engine when the vehicle drops below 12mph. You can hear it yourself in the clip below.

Reuters writes that the NHTSA believes adding external waterproof speakers will cost the auto industry about $40 million annually, but the benefits of reduced injuries are estimated at $250 million to $320 million annually.

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IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
The default should be The Jetsons flying car sound - we all know it, it sounds cool, and its not incredibly obnoxious.

It would be fun if you could download your own like ringtones, lol... imagine the terribleness that would ensue if we could all do that.
 
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bexwhitt

TS Evangelist
Something akin to: "Caution: Misguided eco-warrior approaching. Beware excessive flatulence!"
You won't have a choice soon if you want to go in most cities it will be Electric car or electric bus. EV's are cheaper to run and need minimal servicing you don't have to be a carrot munching plastic sandal wearing vegan to have one.
 

Mugsy

TS Evangelist
I remember when the tiny Subaru Justy came with the option to recreate (inside the cabin) different engine sounds over the stereo speakers.

It actually had the option for the tiny 4cyl with CVT to sound like a Ferrari V12. :D
 

Damocles

TS Rookie
I think this is nothing short of ridiculous. One of the salient features of an EV is the lack of noise pollution - and the good ol' boys at the EU want to bring it back! Has anyone thought of the audio cacophony of varying sounds that we may be subjected to, produced by a slow-moving traffic jam in a town centre? How will non-sighted folk manage to sort out where it's all coming from if they're all making different noises?
 
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Mugsy

TS Evangelist
I think this is nothing short of ridiculous.
[...]
How will non-sighted folk manage to sort out where it's all coming from if they're all making different noises?
1) Sighted pedestrians will also benefit from being able to hear an EV bearing down on them. Simply crossing a store parking lot, I can't tell you have many people will walk right down the middle of the lane unable to hear the vehicle right behind them.

2) (Re: Blind people) Same way they do now.
 
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Nobina

TS Evangelist
Even modern diesel cars which are supposed to be the loudest can barely be heard at low RPM when passing by. So if this is really a problem then add those sounds in diesel and petrol cars too. But it's a non-issue. The sound that you hear when a car is passing by is the sound of tires rubbing against the road, you can hear it regardless of the engine type. And electric cars do produce a little bit of a squealing sound when accelerating.

People who live near a busy road are gonna have a great time in rush hour. This whole thing is stupid.
 

Mugsy

TS Evangelist
People who live near a busy road are gonna have a great time in rush hour. This whole thing is stupid.
The need to produce audible noise is only at speeds of 18.5mph or below. People living near busy roads won't be affected.
 
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Nobina

TS Evangelist
The need to produce audible noise is only at speeds of 18.5mph or below. People living near busy roads won't be affected.
But aren't busy roads usually jammed and cars are moving slowly all the time? I mean I've been in many so I know.
 
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lipe123

TS Evangelist
This is really dumb but at the same time has the option to be really amazing.
If those external speakers are decent and you can mic them up to the bluetooth mic with a push to talk key on the steering wheel.

It opens up a whole new world of: GTFO the fast lane you impaired ***** driver ahead of meeeee!!! Also rearview mirrors are a thing to be used you f***wit!!!

And so much more parking lot amazingness with clueless pedestrians whose faces are buried in phones.
 
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Underdog

TS Addict
Something akin to: "Caution: Misguided eco-warrior approaching. Beware excessive flatulence!"
You won't have a choice soon if you want to go in most cities it will be Electric car or electric bus. EV's are cheaper to run and need minimal servicing you don't have to be a carrot munching plastic sandal wearing vegan to have one.
Hey man! Plastic is bad for the planet. If you're serious you need to go barefoot.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Anything to protect those who fail to look both ways when crossing the street from themselves, or drivers who fail to pay attention to those who are unable to do so.
Something akin to: "Caution: Misguided eco-warrior approaching. Beware excessive flatulence!"
I suppose your other car is a Hummer, and you love getting 12-miles per gallon.
 

candle_86

TS Enthusiast
I suppose your other car is a Hummer, and you love getting 12-miles per gallon.
You got something against real vehicles? EVs will never replace the internal combustion engine. Range is poor, using accessories and the battery on a job site further limits range. Cost to replace battery packs exceeds current major auto repair costs.

You will never find anyone going on long road trips, or using their vehicle for work driving an ev, it's simply inadaquate. Add the battery pack cost and now you end up with more cars at the junk yard instead of being driven 20+ years.