Petitioner Asks NHTSA to Require Noisemakers on Older EVs

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

Without the need for thousands of tiny explosions and burning liquid dinosaurs, electric vehicles are considerably quieter than those powered by internal combustion. Even so, EVs are required to make noise when traveling slowly, so they don’t surprise pedestrians. The rules cover vehicles manufactured since March 2021, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received a petition to extend the policy.

The current rules were passed in 2018, requiring all EVs and hybrids with a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds or less to have external sound-making equipment to alert nearby pedestrians. It’s why some EVs sound like spaceships in parking garages, and many models beep like dump trucks when backing up. The petitioner wants the NHTSA to declare a defect for vehicles lacking the technology and require older vehicles to be updated.

The NHTSA recently opened an investigation into the subject, which could eventually involve vehicles from Nissan, VW, Jaguar, Mazda, Hyundai, Chrysler, Ford, BMW, Porsche, and many others. If the NHTSA determines that there is a safety defect related to older EV and hybrid models, as many as 9.1 million vehicles could be involved.

If the NHTSA finds in favor of the petitioner, a potential safety recall could be expensive for automakers. The costs for retrofitting noisemakers onto older models, installing speed sensors, and other parts for 9.1 million cars will quickly climb into the millions. 

[Image: T. Schneider via Shutterstock]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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4 of 18 comments
  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Feb 13, 2023

    This is where good counsel and political favors come into play.

  • Bullnuke Bullnuke on Feb 13, 2023

    There was a law over 100 years ago that required an assistant carrying a lantern to lead a horseless carriage down the road to protect passersby. Maybe these days an assistant blowing a kazoo walking ahead of current-day noiseless electric horseless carriages would work...

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Feb 13, 2023

    Some loud electronic farting noises would definitely get pedestrians attention. They would be looking around to see who let one. Tesla already has that with a number of noises you can play.

  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Feb 13, 2023

    As usual I prefer loud. Really loud, like Grand Funk Red Album - Detroit sound.