European Parliament: electric cars must make noise

The European Parliament has voted in favour of a European Commission proposal to decrease the maximum allowed noise for new cars, vans, trucks, buses and coaches, in an effort to reduce “vehicle noise nuisance” by 25%.

At the same time, the EU has voted in favour of a proposal to force carmakers to fit electric and hybrid electric vehicles with a sound generating device, to improve low speed safety for pedestrians and the visually impaired.

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The proposed changes, which are expected to become law, would see new car noise levels reduced by four decibels, commercial vehicle noise levels reduced by three decibels.

This change would be made in three steps: the first two years after the proposal is finally approved, the second in five-seven years, the third in 10-12 years. The current regulations on noise emissions have not changed since 1996.

The reduced rates would also be tested more realistically, so that “sound emissions of a vehicle under street driving conditions will not differ significantly from what can be expected from the type-approval test results for this specific vehicle”.

Which could mean no more cleverly valved exhausts on supercars…

At the opposite end of the scale, “Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems” will become mandatory in a standardised fashion on all electric and hybrid electric vehicles, after a transitional period of five years.

This is an effort to reduce road accident injuries, since most current vehicles of these types are virtually silent when running on electric power at lower speeds. Meaning it’s not uncommon for pedestrians to step out in front of them because they haven’t heard them coming.

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