EVs cannot remain silent, rules the US

DAVE MOORE
Last updated 05:00 20/01/2013
EV

Silent running: EVs will have to get louder, the US' National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed.

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Silent progress is something that many people, including one's neighbours, like about hybrids but, while they're so quiet, they're dangerous, United States safety experts say.

Far from encouraging pedestrians and cyclists to watch where they're going and to remove their music ear-buds when crossing the road, the US's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposes a federal motor vehicle safety standard that would set the minimum sound requirements for electric and hybrid vehicles.

This follows on from the 2010 Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act (PSEA), where the rule will apply to electric vehicles and hybrids that have an electric-only propulsion mode whether they are cars, light trucks, heavy-duty trucks, buses or motorcycles.

According to the administration, the new standard will ensure blind, visually impaired and other pedestrians will detect the presence of the aforementioned vehicles because of the acoustic signal that will be emitted and clearly identifiable as as coming from a vehicle.

The agency estimates that this proposal will result in 2800 fewer injuries in the US and saving 35 of the lives lost there each year, costing about $50 per vehicle to set up. Motorists will pay, of course.

From last year, all Toyota Priuses sold in the US automatically emit a whirring sound at speeds below 25kmh, Nissan's all-electric Leaf has a warning system that operates up to 29kmh but, unlike that in the Priuses, it can be deactivated by the driver. The Chevrolet/Holden Volt does not have an automatic sound-emitting system; the driver activates it when required.

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