Electric Car Owners in USA Could Choose Their Own Sound

Electric cars can be deathly silent, literally, at least according to lawmakers who think that these quiet vehicles are a danger to oblivious pedestrians and cyclists. The European Union have already mandated that a synthetic sound system be fitted in electric vehicles. Meanwhile, across the pond, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator (NHTSA) has recently extended the deadline for electric vehicles and hybrids travelling at slow speeds (below 19mph) to generate some kind of sound.

But what kind?

Initial draft of the regulations allowed for only one type of sound, but the NHTSA conceded after automakers requested for more.


The newly launched Volkwagen ID.3 emits a fake sound at low speeds. Porsche, which recently revealed the much-anticipated Taycan, offers a US$500 electric sport sound option that adds engine rumble and acceleration sounds to makes the Taycan feel/sound like an ICE car.

BMW enlisted the help of Oscar winner, Hans Zimmer, to compose a sound for its electric car, the Vision M Next. Mercedes AMG chose the rock path and have gotten Linkin Park band, famous for their angsty music, to compose sounds for its upcoming ONE plug-in hybrid and EQ electric cars.

The NHTSA has opened it up to the public for feedback, on whether hybrids and EVs should come with “a suite of pedestrian alert sounds” from which to choose from.

What the road safety regulator should consider, though, is whether a cacophony of sounds on the road could lead to desensitisation to ambient sounds and confusion. Is that a car hurtling towards me or a movie soundtrack/Linkin Park busking on the street? *crash* Yup, it was a car. Get me to hospital, please.

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