Plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles are significantly quieter than their conventionally powered counterparts and this makes them harder for pedestrians to hear.
To combat the issue, the United States Department of Transportation (DoT) has developed new rules which will require so-called “quiet cars” to produce noises at low speeds in order to warn other road users about their presence. The law aims to save lives, but it also means automakers have to develop a new sound for their eco-friendly models.
Automotive News is spending some time with the 2019 Chevrolet Volt and they’ve created a short clip that reveals the company’s latest iteration of their pedestrian alert system. The system uses front and rear speakers to produce a sound that is nothing like a traditional car.
Here you go (video also being uploaded to article). pic.twitter.com/5Py6fJDC5R
— Michael Wayland (@MikeWayland) September 24, 2018
While the noise is certainly an odd choice, Volt program engineering manager Rob Mantinan told the publication that it is “more deliberate” and “more noticeable” than before. Thankfully, most drivers shouldn’t be able to hear it when they’re behind the wheel.
The Volt has had a pedestrian alert system since 2011, but the original model had a horn which drivers had to activate. The company then introduced an automated buzzing noise when it launched the second-generation Volt a few years later.
The updates to the 2019 Volt extend far beyond fake noises, as the model has been equipped with a new 7.2 kW charging system which enables the car’s 8.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack to be fully recharged in as little as 2.3 hours using a 240-volt outlet. The new charging system, though, is standard only on the Volt Premier, and the base model still uses a 3.6 kW charger. As a result, it takes approximately 4.5 hours to recharge the battery with a 240-volt connection.
Other updates for 2019 include a new 8-inch infotainment system, a digital rearview camera mirror and revised interior upholstery.