Feds Postpone Hybrid and EV Warning Noises Until Next Year

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole
feds postpone hybrid and ev warning noises until next year

Federal regulators have postponed rules to require hybrid and EV carmakers to add audible warnings to their cars to alert nearby pedestrians, bicyclists and visually impaired people, Reuters reported.

The audible warnings would be installed on cars made by Ford, Honda and Toyota and be activated when those cars are traveling slower than 18 mph. According to the report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says hybrid and EV cars are 19-percent more likely to be involved in a pedestrian crash when compared to gasoline cars. The rule could prevent 2,800 crashes with pedestrians.

The proposed rule has been in the works since 2013, and the latest delay — from November to March — is because “additional coordination is necessary.” The proposed sounds are posted on NHTSA’s website, and automakers will have to choose between “pleasant sounding, brainwave, thought-stealing machine” sound or “piercing-wail-that-will-drive-your-dog-batshit-in-the-morning” sound.

Lawmakers in 2010 directed NHTSA to draft regulations for the new rule by January 2014. In July, NHTSA director said those regulations would be complete this month.

According to the report, the new rule could cost automakers up to $23 million to fit their cars with external speakers.

Like anything good, the best answer has obviously come from motorsports. Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima’s Pikes Peak EV was fitted this year with a clear, banshee wail that alerted El Paso County that he was hauling ass up a mountain. If automakers could build their EVs to run like hell up a mountain, I think I’d be willing to drive an electric car that you could hear in Manitou Springs, too.

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  • Mcs Mcs on Nov 25, 2015

    My car already has the Alternative 5 sound from the NHTSA site. The biggest problem is that in one of the garages I park in, it blends in with the ventilation fans and no one can hear it. As for the coolest EV sound, here's the Rimac at speed: "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvXmPJStWyY"

  • VolandoBajo VolandoBajo on Nov 26, 2015

    I live on a side street in a residential neighborhood, one where people who know the neighborhood cut down a street at the end of the block and then come down to the stop sign at our corner. And our bedroom is on the front side of the house. So now, thanks the nanny lobby, I will be able to hear cars slowing to a stop, then accelerating after their turn, all the time emitting a noise. One that will probably be the more annoying because it will probably be a monotone rather than the natural sound of a car, one that we are all accustomed to anyway. No doubt, they will want the EV's to make a "wheee" sound, to celebrate the latest nanny lobby victory. (Meanwhile, in a decade, even though the second street is a walkway to a regional rail station a few blocks away, I have NEVER seen a visually impaired person walking. And for this, I have to endure a dozen or more annoying sounds lasting a half minute or so, just in case both the driver of the EV and the visually impaired person happen to be out to lunch at the same time? Why not just mandate that all EV drivers must come to a full stop, get out of their cars, look for any sensorily-impaired pedestrians, and require them by law to help them cross before they can continue. Just when I think the nanny lobby must be running out of ideas, they continue to amaze me. Just think if they could apply that creativity to solving REAL problems.)

  • Shaker Shaker on Nov 26, 2015

    My 2015 Volt has a button on the end of the turn-signal stalk that fast-chirps the car horn (3 quick pulses for each press) as a "pedestrian friendly" warning. It's still pretty loud, so I use it well before encountering "walkers"; otherwise, I'll wait patiently until they see me or clear the way. But - I don't drive in the city, or in a "blind pedestrian" area either. As to a music-based warning blaring from the front of my Volt, I'd pick this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euaH8mUiFHs (No, I wouldn't) :-)

    • Alexndr333 Alexndr333 on Nov 26, 2015

      My '14 Spark EV has this light-weight grinding sound to let folks know something's there. I can't help but wish instead for a recording of the burble from a new Camaro SS V-8. False advertising? Perhaps. But it does have 400 ft-lbs of torque (130 hp) and will beat just about anything from 0 to 15 mph.

  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Dec 03, 2015

    At least you won't be able to pull into the garage at night when the rest of the family is asleep without beeping them awake. Your wife will enjoy that.