US Congress May Consider Requiring Noisier Electric Cars

Lotus Sound for Hybrids

In brief: The Motor Vehicle Safety Act, now in Congress, may include the addition of authorization for the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to regulate noise requirements for plug-in vehicles.

The word

Lotus Sound in Prius

A version of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act is in both the House of Representatives and the Senate in Washington, D.C. Amendments have been proposed to include noise requirements for electric vehicles to alert pedestrians or to give power to the NHTSA to require and regulate these noise-makers for quiet-running vehicles.

A study done by the NHTSA last fall found that hybrid vehicles are more likely to be involved in pedestrian incidents, though critics point out what they see as flawed methodology in the study. The flaw, they say, is that most hybrids are generally more urban in use than other vehicles, so the comparison is apples to oranges.

Nevertheless, several groups including the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the National Federation of the Blind, and the American Council of the Blind petitioned Congress to consider including noise requirements for hybrid and electric vehicles.

If included in the new safety rules, the requirements could go into effect as early as next year.

And so ...

Most auto manufacturers don't seem to be waiting for legislation. The Chevy Volt, for instance, will have a unique sound that plays exterior to the car during all-electric driving.

Photo credits: Lotus Sound Engineering

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