Full electric and hybrid vehicles have until September, 2020 to become fully compliant with a new set of rules finalized by the U.S. Department of Transportation that requires “quiet cars” to emit some type of noise in order to warn pedestrians, cyclists and the blind.
Nissan argued that an audible alert was only necessary up to 12.4 mph (20 km/h), yet the NHTSA felt otherwise. As for higher speeds, the general consensus is that tire noise, wind resistance and other factors eliminate the need for an additional running sound.
Regulators will now consider a request from automakers that would allow for the inclusion of multiple types of alert sounds, so that owners can select the ones they prefer.
The NHTSA estimates that automakers will spend about $40 million annually to add external waterproof speakers to their electrified vehicles in order to comply with the new rules. At the same time, benefits of reduced injuries are estimated at $250 million to $320 million annually.
The agency also states that the odds of a hybrid vehicle being involved in a pedestrian crash are 19% higher than in the case of a vehicle with an internal combustion engine. Hopefully “louder” EVs and hybrids will keep that percentage in check.