EU imposes new deadline for manufacturers to fit their electric cars with sound symposers in order to reduce road accidents
4 April 2014

New electric and hybrid cars will have to emit engine-like noises by 2019. That's according to a mandate from the European Commission, which wants all new electric vehicles to increase their noise in order to drive down accidents involving deaf or blind pedestrians.

That means models like the VW e-Up, where a sound symposer is currently optional, will have to offer the system as standard across Europe, although Volkswagen officials told Autocar that implementing the new ruling would be "no problem". Other manufacturers including Renault have welcomed the plan. The firm's Zoe EV already comes equipped with sound symposers. However, the Twizy currently doesn't.

Elsewhere, Vauxhall said the sound system equipped on its Ampera had been "designed with blind people in mind", while Nissan had developed the sounds in its Leaf model "in response to public concern about the quietness of EVs and hybrids". The Leaf's sound symposer works at speeds below 25mph and can also be turned off by the driver, something which wouldn't be allowed under the new rules.

The European Council is expected to give the legislation a green light in the coming months, with the plan already meeting with the approval of the European Parliament.

A spokesman from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders told Autocar: “Advances [in safety technology] have helped reduce UK road accidents by a third, so the industry is supportive of moves to ensure vehicles can be heard. Many electric vehicles are already equipped with systems to alert pedestrians when travelling at low speeds, so this latest set of legislation will ensure a level playing field for all manufacturers as they develop new and existing vehicles.”

Similar laws already exist in the US, where all electric vehicles must emit a noise at speeds below 18mph. Such models already sold in both the US and Europe include the Ampera's sister car, the Chevrolet Volt, as well as the Volkswagen e-Golf.

Fahad Redha

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4 April 2014
As long as it doesn't rattle like a diesel

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

4 April 2014
Surely this defeats the object of such cars as being sparing with the energy they use.

If I was a manufacturer, I'd just turn up the Volts and let the naturally noisy components whine loose to get around this.

Anything that saps energy is just stupid for these types of cars!

4 April 2014
When slowly going round car parks etc in the Prius you have to be on hyper alert to avoid the inevitable of people stepping into your path.

OTOH, when I was driving my Mondeo TDCI the other day, I had to stop because someone gawping at their phone just walked straight out in front of me. They really had no idea I was there.

4 April 2014
Next they'll be legislating bicycles to make a noise. Pedestrians really need to look and listen before stepping off a kerb; many do neither. It's a different matter in car parks, where pedestrians should be given right of way.

4 April 2014
I can figure out how this might benefit a blind person but it doesn't seem to be much use to a deaf person. So much for the gentrification of our streets and reduced noise.

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