A major concern about the mass adoption of fully-electric cars is how quiet they are. Because of the battery-powered engines, they don’t make noise in the same way as regular gas-powered vehicles. This poses a threat to pedestrians and other motorists. So to fix this problem, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has finalized a ruling that will require these electric cars to create sound at lower speeds.
Electric cars have motors that operate so quietly, they often will surprise people in parking lots and small side streets. This is because when traveling at slower speeds, there is virtually no sound produced that would make nearby pedestrians aware of a moving vehicle. There are some EVs, like the Nissan Leaf, that create an artificial sound to address the noiseless issue already, but the new rules issued by the NHTSA will be the first that officially requires a specific sound level be made while electric vehicles are traveling less than 18.6 miles per hour.
According to the NHTSA, there will be an estimate of $40 million in annual investments by automakers to implement this noise feature. However, it’s estimated to prevent over 2,400 injuries each year, resulting in an overall benefit of $250 million to $340 million saved. Automakers are going to be required to have at least 50 percent of their electric car fleets equipped with this technology by September of 2019, and all of their EV by 2020. This rule will only apply to light duty cars and trucks that have a gross vehicle weight rating below 10,000 pounds.