I Pick the Sound of a Raspberry

The EU imposes yet more rules for electric cars. Automologist MAC ‘sounds off’ on it.

Electric cars have a problem…well, lots of them really. But the EU bureaucrats in all of their infinite wisdom have decided that they are too quiet. Yup, you heard me right. The nannies in the EU parliament have decided that silent electric-powered vehicles are too quiet by far and are in need of some external sound.

The EU mandated system will be called the Acoustic Vehicle Alert System or AVAS—come on, who came up with that one? As of July 1st, it will become law in Europe and thus much of the rest of the world will probably follow suit.

The idea of the AVAS is to enable cyclists and pedestrians to be able to hear the approach of a car, but it was very much the lobbying of groups, such as the European Blind Union, who managed to get the idea adopted. The law states that the AVAS must cut in at speeds above 20kph, which incidentally is the average speed in most European cities, and must be at least 56dB but no louder than 75 dB, which apparently is the same volume as an electric toothbrush.


Apparently, Harman, a respected supplier to the car industry, is already fitting an external Electric Sound Synthesis (ESS) to new cars. It works by attaching two speakers to the front and back of a car and utilizes speed sensors to vary the pitch of the noise so that pedestrians and cyclists can gauge what the vehicle is doing without seeing it.

The laws do not cover the sound inside the vehicle but Harman has that covered as well, with a piped-in sound that will help the driver connect with the vehicle better. Apparently, drivers of near silent cars often think that their car is broken because they cannot hear anything. Here is where Harman has gotten it so right, though; the system allows brands to get ‘creative’ with the sound and custom design them so that the noise will reflect the DNA of the car. Cool.

Me, for one, when I eventually have to give up my fossil-fuelled car, will programme the sound of a raspberry, and hold that as a fitting tribute to all of the bureaucrats out there who seem intent on treating us all like kids.

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