Quiet car rule delayed until spring for EVs, hybrids

Quiet car rule delayed until spring for EVs, hybrids

A federal regulation that would require hybrids and electric vehicles to make a standard beeping sound at low speeds to warn sight-impaired pedestrians has been delayed until March. Congress originally set the deadline for November 2015, but NHTSA said it couldnêt meet that timetable.

Although some EVs, such as the Nissan Leaf, currently make a warning sound at low speeds, NHTSA wants a standard sound that would be easily recognized. It will set a minimum speed for the sound; reports have suggested it would be 18 mph.

NHTSA has estimated the rule will cost the industry $23 million in the first year. The main cost will be from adding an external, waterproof speaker to the car that could broadcast the sound in all weather. Automakers have said they support the principle, though they have quibbled about specifics such as the speed requirement.

If the rule went into place next spring, the requirements would kick-in 18 months later, at the start of the 2018 model year. If put into place today, the rule would affect less than 5 percent of vehicles. But the number of EVs and hybrids is expected to grow quickly as the 2025 deadline for more stringent fuel economy approaches.

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