Choice of EV Sounds Could be in Owners Hands

Electric car owners could soon be able to be as audibly individual as ICE users, by being able to decide what their vehicles will sound like.

The US’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has said that owners, not automakers, should have the power to choose what noise comes out of their EVs. Since the start of this month, all new electric vehicle models need to generate a warning sound when travelling below 19mph in the US and the EU, although older models do not have to be retrofitted.

The mandates have been brought in on safety grounds where silent cars can pose a risk to pedestrians, with the NHTSA saying “blind and sighted pedestrians, as well as bicyclists” are particularly in danger. While, initially, all vehicles were going to make one type of sound, requests from manufacturers have been made to be able to choose which sound individual models emit. The carmakers want to differentiate their products from other brands in the same way various internal combustion engine-powered sound different.

However, with the NHTSA saying that owners themselves should be able to choose from a list of preset options, it presents yet another complication for automakers. The organization is currently undertaking public consultation on whether manufacturers should be limited in the amount of artificial noises they can install. In the US, automakers have until 2020 for full compliance, while that extends to 2021 in the EU.

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