No Bells Or Whistles Please!

Date Posted: 14/11/2019 10:45:00

UK road users simply want electric vehicles to sound like petrol or diesel cars to protect vulnerable pedestrians, says Venson Automotive Solutions

Road Safety Week 18th to 24th November 2019

  • 43% of drivers would prefer a noise that mimics a diesel or petrol car engine when an electric vehicle is driven at low speed
  • 70% of drivers would prefer a horn sound similar to that made by a petrol or diesel engine as a preferred noise for an electric vehicle warning sound
  • 72% of drivers questioned think EV sounds should be standardised

As Brake Road Safety Week approaches, celebrating design-led solutions to allow road users to get around in safety, a new survey from Venson Automotive Solutions reveals that British road users think that electric vehicles (EVs) should emit sounds like…well… cars, not anything else.  With the latest company car benefit-in-kind tax encouraging fleet take-up of electric vehicles, the safety of fleet drivers and pedestrians is paramount.   

When asked about a standardised noise of an EV engine, 43% said they would like to hear a noise that mimics diesel or petrol car engines; 23% would prefer a continuous low decibel sound.  Thankfully, only 6% would choose something completely different, such as classical music, whale song or ocean waves.

The findings come as manufacturers work to meet new legal requirements for all new hybrid and EVs to incorporate an acoustic vehicle alert system (AVAS).  From July 1, 2019, all new electric cars sold in the EU will have to be fitted with AVAS and all existing models by July 2021.

Alison Bell, Marketing Director for Venson Automotive Solutions comments: “The integration of AVAS into hybrid and electric vehicles is a very positive move.  Almost silent electric and hybrid cars put vulnerable road users at risk, especially children, the partially sighted and blind.  As more fleet drivers opt for emission-free electric models, with the introduction of zero BIK tax from April 2020, they will be relieved to know that with the introduction of AVAS their choice will no longer put road users at risk.”

Under EU law, from 2021, EV drivers will be able to manually trigger a warning sound, as in a horn but less urgent, to alert pedestrians and road users of their presence. 70% surveyed said they would like to hear a horn sound similar to that made by a petrol or diesel engine vehicle.  Just 13% wanted to hear a phrase such as ‘EV approaching’, however, 6% would prefer an animal sound like a roar, bark or quack instead of a traditional vehicle horn.

Bell concludes: “With over 100 years of petrol and diesel engine sounding vehicles on our roads, people naturally react to the sound of an approaching vehicle or a horn being sounded. Keeping sounds we are used to hearing on UK roads makes the most sense when it comes to road safety and saving lives”.

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