According to the NHTSA, this law will cost the automotive manufacturers 39 million dollars per year, but the warning devices will prevent 2,400 injuries by 2020, and the benefits of preventing these injuries are estimated at 250 – 320 million USD. NHTSA noted that the risk of injury to a pedestrian or cyclist by an electric vehicle or a hybrid is 19 percent higher compared to conventional vehicles.
Therefore, under the new law electric and hybrid vehicles will be equipped with a warning device, which will emit artificial sounds at speeds up to 19 mph (30 km / h) when the vehicle approaches an intersection or moving in reverse. At higher speeds, the sound will not be necessary because the aerodynamic currents and tire noise will be sufficient for the nearby pedestrians to hear the vehicles approaching.
Automotive manufacturers already offer electric and hybrid vehicles with warning systems of this kind. Nissan LEAF was the first electric vehicle that received such a system, called VSP (Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians). But the problem with this system is that the artificially sound disturbed the owners, some of them even disconnecting these systems!
The automobile manufacturers themselves expresses concern regarding these systems.
The rules establish only minimum requirements for sound without specifying what kind of sound should be issued. The automakers note that the sound level set by rules is too high.
The car being turned on, but standing still, the vehicle will have to emit a sound between 47 – 50 decibels, which will increase to 50 – 53 decibels when the vehicle will run in reverse. When running at speeds below 10 km / h, the output level will have to go up to 53 – 56 decibels at speeds of 20 km / h, and it will be increased to 59 – 62 decibels while at speeds of 30 km / h it goes up to 63 – 67 decibels.
If the automobile manufacturers do not know what kind of sound to apply to the cars, why not give some sounds at the discretion of the owners, but also the ability to download different sounds online, which could include the sounds of cars with conventional engines. How about a Nissan LEAF with a Nissan GT-R sound, or a Tesla Model S with the sound of Ferrari LaFerrari?! Seems like a pretty sweet idea.
If desired, the owners could set the system so that the sound will be issued at any speed, which will increase the driving pleasure, if opting for a legendary car sound.
Similar rules regarding the sound of electric and hybrid vehicles will be required in 2019 in other parts of the world, including Europe.