Electric Cars in the EU Are Now Required to Emit Synth-Like Sounds for Safety

New electric vehicles will be required to feature a sound-emitting device, starting today.

New electric vehicles will be required to emit a specific noise, as of today, in order to make roads safer.

The new EU rule has been set in anticipation of the growing numbers of electric vehicles on roads, as they make considerably less noise than those with internal combustion engines.

Until now, pedestrians have been less likely to hear electric vehicles coming, meaning a higher risk of accidents.


Slow speed signals

From today, every new four-wheel electric vehicle is required to be fitted with the device, which is supposed to sound like a traditional engine.

The car's acoustic vehicle alert system (or AVAS) will be required to work when traveling or backing up at a speed below 12mph (19km/h), the BBC said. The reason for this, the EU claim, is that drivers are more likely to be near pedestrians when they are reversing or driving slowly. It is possible to deactivate the sound when necessary, they add.

The sound can be heard below, via the BBC:

It could be said that the sound more closely resembles that of the famous final scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind where aliens communicate via synth sounds.

One tweeter, @tresdessert, suggested the noise was more comparable to Ross Geller from Friends playing a synth keyboard. 

Guide Dogs, a charity for the blind that had campaigned for these changes, welcomed the new device requirements, though they argue EVs should make a sound at all speeds.

Hanz Zimmer-composed sounds

BMW also recently revealed new EV sounds, composed by Hanz Zimmer, for their Vision M Next concept. However, the sound is solely for the benefit of the driver.

In a press statement, where you can also hear the sound, the car company said:


"When driving electrically, the driver who is used to the familiar sound of a combustion engine experiences the paradigm shift of powertrain technology. For some, this may lead to an alienation between driver and vehicle."

"The sound of the Vision M NEXT aims to create harmony between the driver and the electrically driven vehicle. This is achieved through the inspiration of art."

From 2021, all new electric cars must have an AVAS, not just new models, the BBC reports.

It is a sign of changing times in the automotive industry. The UK government also recently announced plans to ban internal combustion engine vehicles from being sold by 2040.

Electric vehicles accounted for 6.6% of the new car market in May, a slight growth over the same time last year where they made up 5.6% of the market.

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