Sep 18, 2019 - Energy & Environment

Consumers to select sounds to accompany their quiet hybrid cars and EVs

Electric cars like the 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus are too quiet. Photo: Nissan

Federal auto safety officials may soon allow you to pick your car's ringtone.

Why it matters: Electric vehicles and hybrids are quiet, which means they can be dangerous to pedestrians, bicyclists and people with vision impairments. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires carmakers to add alert sounds to their quiet models.

What's happening: This week, in response to automakers' requests, NHTSA said it will at least let consumers choose from a variety of sounds, Reuters reports.

  • Whether there's a limit on the number of compliant sounds is still open for discussion.

My thought bubble: I'm all for customization, but this sounds like a situation where there should be a standard sound so people know when a car is approaching and don't confuse it with other ambient sounds.

The bottom line: It will cost automakers about $40 million a year to add an external waterproof speaker to comply with the rule, but reduced injuries will save an estimated $250 million to $320 million annually.

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