All electric cars to be fitted with compulsory pedestrian warning noise

Published: 01 July 2019

► New noise alert system is here
► On all new EVs from July 2019
► And hybrids from July 2021

Electric cars are too quiet for their own good it seems – and now a new EU rule is going to make them noisier. Ever since electric vehicles (EVs) and even hybrids first arrived on our roads, there have been concerns that pedestrians can’t hear or notice them in the same way as conventionally-powered vehicles. 

New EU rules designed to combat the issue will force car makers to fit an acoustic vehicle alert system (AVAS) to all four-wheel electric vehicles sold from 1 July 2019. It’ll also be required on all hybrids from July 2021, according to Brussels. 

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Interestingly, the devices will sound when the cars are reversing or travelling below 12mph, as that’s when accidents related to sound are most likely to happen. 

Roads minister Michael Ellis said the government wanted ‘the benefits of green transport to be felt by everyone’ and also saw how the new system could help the visually impaired. ‘This new requirement will give pedestrians added confidence when crossing the road,’ he added. 

In our experience as both pedestrians and drivers, it’s a legitimate issue. It’s easy to listen for cars before looking when crossing the road, and equally, the sight of surprised pedestrians is becoming commonplace when driving an EV, or hybrid in silent electric mode.

It’s something several car makers have already noticed though. The Nissan Leaf and Jaguar i-Pace feature stylised noises to alert pedestrians already. 

Sounds like our streets are about to get a little bit noisier – and futuristic whooshes will bring a dash of sci-fi soundscape to Britain’s roads.

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast