As electric cars become quieter, they likewise become more dangerous to pedestrians who don't hear them. The latest update to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's proposal outlining the minimum sound requirements for hybrid and electric vehicles states that EV manufacturers should offer electric car owners a series of driver-selectable pedestrian alert sounds to choose from for their hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) or electric vehicle (EV).
On Tuesday the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a proposal to require HEV and EV automobile companies to "install a number of driver-selectable pedestrian alert sounds in each HEV they manufacture." Currently, only one sound is allowed per vehicle; this proposal would remove that limitation.
These sounds would be installed right into the vehicle -- no pre-selection at the dealership necessary. In fact, this document suggests loosening up the sound "sameness" requirement for vehicle duplicates: "since ‘one size does not fit all' neither will one alert sound for a given make, model, trim level, and model year satisfy all those consumers purchasing all these same vehicles." However, the proposal does cap the number of sound options per vehicle operating condition (stationary, reverse, 10 km/h, 20 km/h, and 30 km/h) to five.
At least based on the sound, this proposal could allow brands like Nissan to design the Leaf to sound like a V8-powered Shelby GT -- an element that plays a significant role in the model's popularity; would giving an electric hatch the same sound profile result in the same admiration from onlookers?
According to the document, comments made by the public concerning the published proposal must be received by November 1.