Patrick Rall's picture

The NHTSA considering banning shut-off switches for EV noise

The US Federal Government ruled in early January that hybrids and pure-electric vehicles that make little noise while driving must include external noisemakers to alert pedestrians but with automakers offering shut-off switches for these audible warning system, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering banning these types of switches.

The reason that the government originally announced that they would mandate external noisemakers on vehicles that are powered by near-silent electric drivetrain, is that these vehicles are eerily quiet – making it difficult for pedestrians to hear and for blind pedestrians, the risk is magnified exponentially. This type of system makes sense and automakers responded positively, working to come up with a sound that would alert pedestrians without annoying the occupants of the vehicles in question. Hyundai, for instance, uses a sound that is compared to the sound of a typical gasoline engine running at idle…while other companies have considering sounds like the one made by a public port authority bus, “clicking” like a loud turn signal indicator especially when the driver is using the turn signal.

However, companies like Hyundai decided to offer a shut-off switch which is literally deactivating a government required safety feature. As soon as the NHTSA caught wind of these shut-off switches for the external noise devices, the government agency began the discussion of banning these switches. When the US Federal Government starting looking at banning these switches, Hyundai removed them prior to the original production run but reports indicate that other companies are still considering this shut-off switch. The removal of this switch is part of the reason the Korean automaker has stated for the Sonata Hybrid deliveries being delayed from January until this month.

The NHTSA expects that all hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) will be equipped with noise makers (likely without the shut-off switch) within the next three years.

Source: Automotive News

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