When one is to enumerate the positive qualities of driving an electric automobile with a rechargeable battery, the list of advantages would include such things as zero emission, hassle-free engine start, driving speeds that are comparable to fuel-powered cars, smoother ride and quiet running. Having a quiet car is a nice perk for drivers. Unfortunately it has a negative consequence in the form of having little to no warning for pedestrians whenever they cross a road. A fuel-powered car can be heard coming, but an e-car? The European Union (EU) thinks this matter serious enough to pass regulation making e-cars mandatorily audible within two years.
The Verge reports that the European Union is now requiring electric cars sold in their member countries to be able to generate artificial noise, at least when travelling at certain speeds or when the vehicle is going in reverse. The sound will thus alert pedestrians of e-cars passing through, to avoid road accidents. This will be achieved through the mandatory installation of the Acoustic Vehicle Alert System (AVAS) which will generate sounds whenever an electric or hybrid car is travelling slowly at 12 miles per hour or under, and as stated, when in reverse gear.
Petitions for regulation regarding the silence of e-vehicles have been gaining traction in the EU as early as 2017, when the Guide Dogs charity submitted to the UK Parliament a research study indicating that these cars had a higher probability (40%) than combustion-engine counterparts to cause an accident resulting in pedestrian injury. Quiet running on e-cars have been a source of concern for pedestrians with partial sight or blindness. The addition of a component that will make artificial noise to provide audible cues for pedestrians has thus been proposed as a necessity. AVAS must be installed in upcoming new e-car models starting July 1 and on all existing electric vehicles on the road by 2021.
This step by the EU for audibility in e-vehicles runs parallel to a similar initiative by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In their regulatory push, American e-cars must all have AVAS packages by 2020, and the noise requirement must be at 18.6 miles per hour and below. While the EU counterpart’s legislation recommends an AVAS noise as mimicking a combustion engine, some manufacturers have previewed prototype setups where the artificial noise is aesthetically pleasing, like the “background melody” sound of the Nissan Canto.
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