2018 Kia Niro EV
Armen Hareyan's picture

I Wish Tesla and Nissan Also Had This Feature That Kia Niro EV Has

Finally someone thought to solve the problem of silent EVs. The 2018 Kia Niro EV has a simple feature that solves a huge safety problem with electric cars. This simple feature should be installed in Tesla Model S, Model X, Model 3, Nissan Leaf and all other EVs that silent powertrains.

Electric vehicles have one big problem that needs to be addressed. It's a pedestrian safety issue and related to silent powertrains that EVs use.

As you know electric cars use a silent powertrain. When pedestrians get closer and for some reason don't see the EV approaching from behind they will not hear the sound of that EV, which puts their lives in danger of the driver's attention is diverted to something else.

Finally, Kia became the first EV producer that decided to address this issue. The new Kia Niro EV, which is revealed at the 2018 CES, among other good features also has front speakers. The car will recognize pedestrians and use the front speakers to warn them that a vehicle is approaching.

This new feature in the 2018 Kia Niro EV is called Active Pedestrian Warning System. This warning system is a combination of several things. it combines Niro EV's camers, object recognition technology and the car's front speakers. As a result it recognizes the pedestrians and warns them of its presence. Installing front spakers with Active Pedestrian Warning System addresses an issue with electric cars, which have a silent powertrain which can make them harder to hear.

Yes, Front Speakrs on All EVs

It would be great if all electric cars had this feature. You probably have noticed that if you stand next to a Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model 3 or Model S you won't hear any sound when they move. Their powertrain is electric and it makes it silent. So why not putting a special pedestrian recognition system and few front speakers to automatically notify pedestrians of their approach. Let's address this huge problem with all EVs.

Niro EV's Range and Charing

Besides this huge single improvement the 2018 Kia Niro EV has an impressive mileage. On a single charge the Niro EV will achieve 238 miles of range, powered by a 64 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack and paired with a strong 150 kW electric motor. Also, the fast charging will allow the car to drive 115 miles in just 30 minutes of charging.

Would you like to have front speakers on all EVs that would warn the pedestrians of their presence? I would like to seem them on Teslas, Leafs and Chevy Bolts. Please let us hear from you in the comments section below. If you liked this article and think it may help your friends, consider sharing or tweeting it to your followers.

Update: I just learned that a law goes into effect in 2019 which requires all EVs to make a noise. Also, I am told that The Gen 2 Chevy Volt has a white noise generator on the front end that makes an unmistakable noise whenever the car is 'in gear' and standing still or going under 30 mph. Over 30 mph, it shuts down.

Sign-up to our email newsletter for daily perspectives on car design, trends, events and news, not found elsewhere.

Share this content.


If all vehicles were electric then you could hear them coming. The noisy internal combustion engines of the other vehicles mask the bit of road noise that an EV makes.
I am torn on this issue as I love the silence on EVs, but my daughter is blind so I fully understand the danger as we tell her to listen for cars. On the other hand, some ICE cars are extremely quiet too.
Kia is not doing it because it's innovative, Kia is doing it because it's legally required in the US starting in 2019. Personally, I loathe this. I love the massive reduction in ambient noise that switching from ICE to EV has brought. All this will do is turn the volume knob up on noise pollution and, since the sounds are artificial, we'll no doubt have brand-specific sounds ranging from utilitarian to quirky to cute.
Sometimes technology can't fix inattentive drivers and pedestrians. People looking at their phones when crossing the street, people walking in the middle of the path in a parking lot. People not giving the right away to pedestrians, like elderly and handicapped.
No need. Electric cars aren’t dead silent, and when speed (and consequence of impact) picks up, so does tire noise. People listening to music, watching their phones etc can’t be helped by a little extra noise.
It's never going to get old that my Tesla is quiet. I want a kinder, gentler horn that I can use to say "I'm here" to pedestrians. My other problem with the article is that I have yet to find a quiet Leaf or Prius - they all have a whine to them.
Most ICE vehicles are new enough that they make very little noise beyond the sound their tires these days. Many of which you can hear NO engine noise. So making an EV make noise sounds ridiculous.
Perhaps a little more research is needed.... the Nissan Leaf has had a VSP (Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians) system built in since the first leaf in 2011... There's an external speaker that provides sound when driving at low speeds, as well as reverse.
All Nissan Leaf's in the US have had a speaker emitting noise to warn pedestrians since their first model year, 2011. I've heard that Chevy has a secondary pedestrian horn in their Volt's and likely the Bolt also. This isn't a new concept and as others have said, this should not be considered unique to EV's as many ICE cars are just as quiet. Road noise is usually enough and the only times it isn't you would not likely hear a normal ICE or these speakers anyway.
I really don't think electric cars are really much more silent than a lot of other cars. I can say the same thing about some other luxury cars. But I can see in certain situations you want to make yourself known. One problem is that so many pedestrians wear earbuds. You might as well use your horn as they wouldn't hear a reasonable sound anyway.
The Nissan Leaf has made a artificial sound at speeds under 25 mph since day 1. It's a weird sound that's a cross between grinding metal and a whine. Over 25 mph the road noise of the tires and wind noise of the vehicle are audible enough the artificial noise is unnecessary.
Ever since I got my Tesla Model S in 2013, I've been concerned about my inability to cyclists in front of me - esp at night. This is especially a problem in the bike-friendly town I live in. I've had to resort to blinking my high-beam headlights, which is tiresome on busy streets. Short of an automatic system, a simple beep button would do it. The 2019 law won't help existing EV's, unless someone comes up with an add-on alert feature.
I've been driving electric for 11 years now, and riding bikes in San Diego for more than 20. The silent problem isn't unique to EV's certain luxury vehicles make less noise in my neighborhood than either of my first 2 EV's and so does my 1967 dodge till about 25 mph. As I have been advocating the rules to not just be for EV's for 11 years I will continue and say need to be applied to all vehicles, both for safety and for promoting the idea that EV's and ICE are not so different ...