RAC Cars News


Electric cars to receive acoustic assistance

By raccars Published

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New European Commission legislation has decreed that electric and hybrid cars must be fitted with a device to emit sound - an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System. This is in order to warn pedestrians - particularly the deaf or blind - that electric vehicles are in the vicinity and decrease accidents.

Currently a 'sound symposer' is optional in certain vehicles, such as the Volkswagen Up or the Renault Zoe EV, but manufacturers will now be required to offer the facility as standard on any hybrid or electric vehicle within their range.

Vauxhall claims its Ampera comes with a sound system specifically designed for blind pedestrians and Nissan has already come up with something similar, after members of the public had expressed concern about the lack of warning noise alerting them to the presence of Evs. In its Leaf model, the audio alert system is active below 25mph and can be deactivated by the driver. The new rules would make this impossible.

The European Parliament has already approved the plan, which is expected to be ratified by the European Council within the next few months. Motoring organisations have given the idea the green light, pointing out that with so many measures already in place to reduce accidents, it doesn't make sense to leave such a glaring omission for hybrids and electric vehicles. The United States has already enacted a version of the law, mandating that electric vehicles travelling below 18mph must emit sound. Manufacturers will be given a five year transition period to implement the artificial noise law.

At the same time, another EU law is to be put into place to reduce the noise levels emitted by cars powered by conventional combustion engines. A three step programme is to be introduced aimed at lowering car noise levels by four decibels, starting on 1 July 2016. The second phase of the plan will begin in 2020 and the last step will be taken in 2024. Phase One concerns noise limits in new vehicles. The subsequent phases will impose decibel limits for all vehicles built between 2022 and 2025, shortly after the introduction of the second and third parts of the scheme.

The idea is to reduce vehicle noise pollution by 25% by 2026. The current 74 decibel limit will, by the final part of the scheme, go down to 68 decibels.

As part of the ruling, manufacturers will be required to label their cars with decibel noise levels. These labels must be homogenised throughout the EU.

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