Electric vehicle warning sounds for safety
The European Union (EU) is enforcing a new regulation, which mandates electric vehicles to have warning sounds, including fake engine noise, resembling a traditional car engine, by July 2019. The sound system, known as acoustic vehicle alert system (AVAS), will generate noise if the car is driven below 19 km/h or while in reverse. The regulation is mainly implemented for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists since soundless electric vehicles are more likely to hit a pedestrian, especially blind and partially blind people. Similar regulations are being proposed in Japan, the UK, and the US.
Many companies, including BMW, are finding this as an opportunity for providing unique sounds to their engines for better brand recognition and brand identity. BMW has hired academy award winner, Hans Zimmer, for composing sounds to their vehicles. BMW has plans to launch more than 20 electric vehicles by 2023 and has branded the sound division for electric cars as “BMW IconicSounds Electric”. Another major car manufacturer, Mercedes-AMG, has hired the US rock band, Linkin Park, to create an artificial sound for its electric cars. The company is also focused on developing sounds inside the car (for instance, the sound of rain, wind, and other nature sounds) for providing a pleasant ambience for driving.
While fake engine noise and AVAS are helpful for pedestrians, few consider it as a source of noise pollution. Noise pollution is considered as one of the major problems of traditional fossil fuel-driven cars, and electric cars were expected to be the problem solver. Since AVAS, including fake engine noise, is becoming mandatory by the government, the benefit of electric vehicles will be limited to solving air pollution alone. Also, adding sound to electric cars involves more cost for manufacturers in terms of hardware components and R&D engaged in designing a sound system.
- Arjun Das
ICT - Research Analyst