Would you want Rick Astley or Fred Flintstone as your EV’s noise?
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All new electric cars will be fitted with devices that create a noise from 2021 – and plans have been laid out to let drivers choose the sound their vehicle makes.
Battery-electric and hybrid models that can be driven silently will need to have an acoustic vehicle alert system (Avas), so pedestrians can hear them coming, under both EU and US rules.
Noises are currently being set by car makers but in a move that could change the game for owners in the UK, Europe and the States, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said owners should be able to “select the sound they prefer from the set of sounds installed in the vehicle”.
So, given the choice, what would you choose? Drivers have been having their say online: some might like a V8 rumble, but opinions ranged from Star Wars TIE Fighters to Rick Astley's 1980s hit, Never Gonna Give you Up.
All brand new electric and hybrid models type approved from 1 July 2019 have been required to have one of the acoustic devices fitted under recent EU regulations.
Meanwhile, manufacturers have until 2021 to make sure all brand new electric cars sold have the devices, not just new models coming to market.
These rules will be compulsory in the UK, no matter the outcome of Brexit, the Department of Transport has confirmed.
In the US, the rules are being applied a year earlier, meaning all electrified models will need to produce a noise at slow speeds from 2020.
The new laws make it compulsory for the devices to activate when vehicles are reversing or travelling at speeds up to 20km/h.
However, drivers will be able to switch the fake sound off if they deem it appropriate – for example in slow-moving traffic in a motorway jam.
Until now, it has been claimed that the noise devices make will mimic the sound of a conventional engine - though there hasn’t been much evidence of this from different car makers.
Jaguar has been working with Guide Dogs for the Blind in the UK to develop a tone for the I-Pace SUV that is easy for the trained K-9s to hear.
Mercedes-Benz has worked with rock band Linkin Park to produce bass-heavy sounds but has gone with a artificial humming noise that it will use for its EQC. Volkswagen’s ID.3 has gone for a tone. Porsche is offering a noise upgrade in the Taycan (below).
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that motorists should be able to choose the soundtrack their electric vehicle plays.
It is considering if manufacturers should be able to limit the number of fake sounds they can install as options in new models, and also if they need to prevent drivers from being able to upload their own tunes.
An NHTSA agency is considering whether to allow hybrid and electric vehicles to be “equipped with a suite of pedestrian alert sounds from which a driver may select a preference”.
The big question is, what fake noise would you want your electric car to produce? People have been sharing their favourites on social media.
A couple of people tweeted they’d want their vehicle's note to replicate the TIE Fighters from Star Wars, while another said they’d choose the soundtrack of a stampede of bison.
Another opted for the Jetsons’ spaceship while others chose screaming, blowing raspberries and even Fred Flintstone’s Yabba DaddaDoo.
The most unusual choice, however, was someone wanting Rick Astley’s 1987 number one hit, Never Gonna Give You Up, played on repeat each time they start the car up.