Europe Wants Electric Cars To Make Noise

The European Union set new rules regarding electric cars sold in its territory to produce “noise” to ensure pedestrian safety. The new guideline follows Europe’s promise to become zero-carbon by 2050.

The European Union deems that electric and hybrid vehicles sold from here on out should be able to produce noise when traveling at speeds below 19 km/h (12 mph) to alert unsuspecting pedestrians and cyclists.

Furthermore, the new rule also applies to electric vehicles already sold and operating in any of the union’s countries by 2021. Manufacturers and users will then have to find a workaround or retrofits to comply.

The noise-making system called Acoustic Vehicle Alert System or AVAS, an ironic move by Europe whereas electric vehicles were initially marketed as a quieter version of the conventional four-wheeled cars on the streets.

Quite reasonably, the charity Guide Dogs complained that electric cars were hard to hear when they were approaching. In a written submission to the British Parliament in November 2017, the charity pointed to a research that says, “electric and hybrid vehicles are 40 percent more likely to be involved in an accident which causes injury to a pedestrian.”

Notably, the charity is part of the British Blind Association where they offer guide dogs services for the partially blind and fully blind.

Roads minister Michael Ellis told BBC that the government wanted “the benefits of green transport to be felt by everyone” and understood the concerns of the visually impaired. “This new requirement will give pedestrians added confidence when crossing the road,” he added.

However, the charity noted that the artificial sound should be present in all speeds, given that electric and hybrid vehicles can jump from 0 to 60 mph speeds in just a few seconds. But they did welcome the new rule set by the Union.

In a tweet by BBC News, they provided an auditory demonstration of how these sounds may perform on the streets. Though they may sound less futuristic and more of a metallic clank, manufacturers can still develop it in the future.

“New regulations will require all new electric vehicles to feature a warning noise to alert pedestrians and cyclists. Listen to the warning noise below.”
BBC Radio 5 Twitter

The new rule set by Europe also follows its commitment to producing zero emissions by 2050. Furthermore, the Union also noted that they would ban the sale of all carbon cars by 2040. Paris even wants to it earlier by setting a 2030 deadline.

As of the moment, more than one million plug-in electric passenger cars and vans have been registered in Europe by June 2018, making the region the world’s second largest market after China. Furthermore, the European passenger plug-in vehicle market scored some 37,000 registrations in April, growing 30% compared to the same period last year.

In April, fully electric vehicles (BEVs) jumped 70% year over year (YoY), to some 24,000 deliveries, and were responsible for 65% of all plug-in sales in the month while plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) share jumped to 2.8%, and that makes the 2019 plug-in vehicle (PEV) share 3.0%.

Top 15 selling plug-in electric car models in Europe in 2017:

Ranking Model Total sales/
1 Mitsubishi Outlander P-HEV 100,097
2 Renault Zoe 91,927
3 Nissan Leaf 84,947
4 BMW i3 59,122
5 Tesla Model S 54,116
6 Volkswagen Golf GTE 38,993
7 Volkswagen e-Golf 33,644
8 Volkswagen Passat GTE 31,632
9 Renault Kangoo Z.E. 29,150
10 Audi A3 e-tron 28,209
11 Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid 25,694
12 Mercedes-Benz C 350 e 22,049
13 Volvo XC90 T8 19,969
14 BMW 330e iPerformance 18,808
15 BMW 225xe Active Tourer 16,720

Notably, US electric car maker, Tesla is catching on with rankings as Elon Musk confirmed that it would be expanding its sales across Eastern Europe but not until 2020.

In a monthly model report this June by Clean Technica, the Tesla Model 3 ranked second after French automaker, Renault. “After a delivery peak in March, the poster child for electromobility has dropped to more “normal” performances, with Tesla delivering 3,738 units of its sedan in April. Looking at individual markets, the midsize model was mainly delivered in Norway (720 units), Germany (514), the Netherlands (467), Switzerland (492), and Sweden (446).”

In a global perspective, Europe isn’t the only regulator that is taking more precautionary measures with the rise of electric cars. In the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will require that all hybrid and electric vehicles emit artificial noise by September 2020, but at faster speeds of 18.6 mph.

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