Minimum sound levels for electric cars coming in 2019

Published by Alexandre Laurent on 06.24.2018 - 3 min

Electric cars will soon have warning sound devices that alert others to their presence when travelling at low speeds. This measure aims to increase the safety of other road users, in particular visually impaired pedestrians. Renault’s range of electric vehicles is a step ahead of the regulations, in fact, since they already come equipped with the Z.E. Voice.

In the United States, the deadline has been set for September 2020. After that date, all electric vehicles and hybrids that are put into circulation must emit a warning sound when travelling at speeds below 30 km/h.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined that below this speed, electric vehicles are not sufficiently audible. It issued a report stating that the risk of a collision with a pedestrian or a cyclist increases by 19% in an electric car when compared to one equipped with a combustion engine. The implementation of this mandate should thus prevent 2,400 accidents per year.

A measure that also applies to Europe

European regulations are providing for the introduction of a similar device called the AVAS (Approaching Vehicle Audible System). All new electric and hybrid vehicles introduced on the market after September 2019 will be required to have one, as will all existing electric vehicles by 2021.

At this stage, the only remaining unknown is the exact acoustic specifications of this warning emitter. In the meantime, car and specialised parts manufacturers are starting to work on shaping the future sound signature of electric cars. The ZOE, Kangoo Z.E. and Master Z.E. already have a loudspeaker located near the engine to broadcast a sound that emulates the movements of a traditional motor vehicle.

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