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Trump Administration Passes Rule Requiring Sounds in 'Quiet Cars' by 2020

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【Summary】Electric cars do not offer the roar of a high-performance engine like the muscle cars of the past. But EVs will soon will make their own signature sound, as the Trump administration passed rules to require automakers to install some type of sound emitting device to electric powered vehicles.

Eric Walz    Feb 26, 2018 6:33 PM PT
Trump Administration Passes Rule Requiring Sounds in 'Quiet Cars' by 2020

WASHINGTON — Electric cars do not offer the roar of a high-performance engine like the muscle cars of the past. But EVs will soon will make their own signature sound, as the Trump administration passed rules that require automakers to install some type of sound emitting device to electric powered vehicles.

Manufacturers of "quiet cars" which include EVs, plug-in hybrids and vehicle equipped with start-stop technology and will be required by 2020 to emit engine-like sounds while running, the Department of Transportation (DOT) ruled Monday. This leaves one important question, "What is considered an engine-like sound from a electric car with no gasoline engine?"

The ruling for "quiet cars" mandates that car manufacturers install external speakers on vehicles to emit a fake engine sound. Manufacturers will have until September 2020 to meet full compliance — a one-year extension from the deadline placed under the Obama administration.

The rule was first demanded by Congress in 2010 following safety concerns that quiet cars were hazardous to blind or hard-of-hearing pedestrians. However, the Trump administration delayed the implementation of the Obama-era rule earlier last year to conduct a review of petitions from automakers.

Nissan, for example, had argued that the alert was only needed for up to 12.4 mph. The rule announced Monday will be mandated for cars moving at speeds of up to 18.6 miles per hour.

The auto industry has already made attempts to please drivers of high-performance cars that are equipped with modern, fuel efficient engines that are much quieter.

Ford used the audio system's speakers in the passenger compartment of the 2015 Mustang equipped with the EcoBoost engine.The speakers pipe in the sounds of an engine throttling up. However, this artificial engine noise is meant for the driver—not for pedestrians outside of the car. BMW uses a similar system on its turbo-powered vehicles.

DOT estimates that hybrid or electric vehicles are 19 percent more likely to collide with pedestrians than traditional gasoline-powered vehicles being they are so quiet. The agency estimates there are about 125,000 pedestrians and cyclists injured each year on U.S. roads.

The rule, according to the Federal Register, will mandate that automakers meet 50 percent compliance by September 2019. The rule will allow for variations in the car sound that automakers use.

The decision is especially suited toward California, a state where automakers must sell more electric-powered vehicles in order to meet the state's stricter emissions requirements.

DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that under the rule, the car-like sounds will be added to about 530,000 model 2020 vehicles and once implemented will prevent 2,400 injuries annually.

Now, cyclists and pedestrians just need to take out their ear-buds while pedaling down the road or crossing the street, so they can hear when an electric vehicle is approaching.


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