New noise systems to stop ‘silent’ electric cars and improve safety

Electric car charging at chargepoint

  • from 1 July 2019, manufacturers must fit acoustic sound systems to new types of quiet electric vehicles to prevent them being too silent, improving safety
  • vehicles will now have systems to produce a sound when they are reversing or driving below 20 kilometres per hour (km/h, about 12mph) providing greater confidence to vulnerable road users
  • new regulations will help ensure future transport is safe and accessible for everyone, a key Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy pledge

The government has further cemented its position as a global leader in the transition to zero emission transport, by securing new regulations to make electric vehicles safer and provide greater confidence to vulnerable road users.

From 1 July 2019, all manufacturers must install a system in new types of quiet electric and hybrid electric vehicles. Sound generators will produce a specified level of noise when they are reversing or running below 20 km/h (about 12mph). The sound generated will be similar to that made by a conventional engine and can be temporarily deactivated by the driver if judged necessary.

The new regulation to make acoustic systems within electric vehicles compulsory will allow those who are visually impaired to hear vehicles more easily. The news comes ahead of the one year anniversary of the government’s Road to Zero strategy, which has helped to achieve record levels of ultra-low emission vehicles on UK roads.

Michael Ellis, Roads Minister, said:

The government wants the benefits of green transport to be felt by everyone, and understands the concerns of the visually impaired about the possible hazards posed by quiet electric vehicles.

This new requirement will give pedestrians added confidence when crossing the road.

The regulation will apply to all new types of ‘quiet’ electric and hybrid vehicles from 1 July 2019, and to all new quiet electric and hybrid vehicles registered from July 2021.

In March 2019 the government outlined the ambition for all future transport to be safer and more accessible in the Future of Mobility: urban strategy. The Department for Transport will convene a roundtable with accessibility groups to discuss the government’s commitment to making transport accessible for all, including the requirement announced today (1 July 2019).

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