Federal Quiet Car Rule for EVs and Hybrids Will Create Other Problems, Automakers Say

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Automak­ers are look­ing for a bal­anc­ing point between silent, dan­gers elec­tric vehi­cles and hybrids and mak­ing vehi­cles so loud they cre­ate other unin­tended prob­lems. A National High­way Traf­fic Safety Admin­is­tra­tion pro­posal sets min­i­mum sound lev­els to elim­i­nate what some safety advo­cates refer to as “silent killer” cars which can be dan­ger­ous for visu­ally impaired pedes­tri­ans. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment wants sound warn­ings to go out to these peo­ple, other pedes­tri­ans, and bicy­clists to pre­vent col­li­sions. Automak­ers say the pro­posed rules would cre­ate sounds that are too loud and com­pli­cated and would make the vehi­cles louder than some sports cars.

Two major auto indus­try trade groups are chal­leng­ing the pro­posed rules. The Alliance of Auto­mo­bile Man­u­fac­tur­ers and the Asso­ci­a­tion of Global Automak­ers issued a joint state­ment that says the pro­posed sounds are louder than nec­es­sary, cre­ate dri­ver and occu­pant annoy­ance, and cost more than nec­es­sary. Mak­ing the rules uni­form and enforce­able becomes more com­pli­cated by the fact that some gasoline-powered sports cars would not be able to pass the tests, the groups said in their state­ment. The fed­eral stan­dard would start up in Sep­tem­ber 2014, and automak­ers would like to see the issues resolved as soon as possible.

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