Quiet car rule finalized; compliance date extended to 2020

Manufacturers of quiet cars – electric vehicles and hybrids – will be required to create an engine-like sound for them to warn pedestrians, bicyclists and the blind. The rule was first proposed in Congress in 2010, delayed and frozen under the Trump administration, and now has a new deadline of September 2020. Automakers must have the sound in half the covered vehicles by September 2019.


The rule will apply only to speeds up to 18.6 mph. At higher speeds, wind resistance and tire noise make enough noise that a separate sound is not needed, regulators said. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) considered and rejected a petition from Nissan to cap the requirement at 12.4 mph.


NHTSA will consider a request by automakers to offer a variety of sounds for car owners to choose from.


NHTSA estimates the rule will cost automakers $40 million a year to comply with it because they will need to install a waterproof external speaker. The sounds will be added to about 530,000 MY 2020 vehicles and will prevent 2,400 injuries yearly, the agency estimates.

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