Noisemaker Rule for EVs, Hybrids Clears Senate

By Colin Bird  on December 14, 2010

Legislation that would require a certain noise threshold for hybrids and electric vehicles received unanimous approval in the Senate last week.

The bill, dubbed the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, would require a minimum sound requirement for all motor vehicles. The legislation now moves to the House, which is expected to pass the measure. The bill proposes a certain amount of noise from EVs and hybrids so that the blind or pedestrians can hear the vehicle when it’s traveling at constant speed, accelerating or decelerating.

The bill doesn’t stipulate a specific speed for the simulated noise. Instead, the bill provides funding for the secretary of transportation, who would set the final rules. The bill is not only aimed at improving pedestrian safety; it would also clear up the splintering standards set by individual carmakers. Right now, the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt offer their own types of alert systems. The Volt will come with a pedestrian warning system that’s activated from one of the steering-wheel stalks. GM goes with a chirping alert that’s activated only at low speeds. Nissan recently showed off a system in the Leaf that sounds like an alien spacecraft. The Infiniti M35h is the first hybrid to have its own noisemaker system, and the Toyota Prius has an optional device, but only in Japan.

Automakers would still be allowed to come up with their own alert sounds, so long as they comply with the law, according to the bill.

If the legislation passes in the House, the rule would have to be implemented no later than 18 months after passage.

Senate Unanimously Rules in Favor of Noisy Hybrids, Electric Cars (AutoBlog Green)

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