Have you ever sat in a hybrid or electric car and realised it was eerily quiet inside?
It’s also comparatively quieter on the outside than a combustion-engine vehicle.
Without an engine, an electric vehicle (EV) is infinitely quieter than a petrol-powered car.
Most people, therefore, refer to electric cars as “laptops on wheels”.
But being so quiet is also dangerous.
Part of the reason why we are able to jump out of the way of a moving vehicle is that we can hear it coming.
When it involves an electric car, how do automakers ensure that people are aware of the car’s presence?
An electric car sounds like this
Electric vehicle warning sounds are something that automakers use to alert pedestrians of the presence of pure EVs.
In some jurisdictions, EVs are required by law to produce warning sounds because of the difficulty that pedestrians, the blind and cyclists have in sensing a nearby car.
This sound is usually a whine of some sort, high-pitched enough to overcome tyre and ambient noise, to warnn people of an EV nearby.
In Europe, there’s legislation mandating the use of “Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems” for all new electric or hybrid vehicles.
In the US, EVs must emit a warning sound below 30km/h.
One example is the popular Nissan Leaf.
The Leaf has the company’s Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians (VSP), which has one sound for forward motion and another, different sound for reverse.
First developed for the car’s initial 2011 launch, the system emits a digitally generated signal from an onboard speaker.
That sound is meant to “achieve the same detectability performance as internal combustion engine sound(s)”, according to a research paper by Nissan’s North America research department.
So, the next time you hear that whining sound when the private-hire Honda Vezel hybrid pulls up next to you, it’s letting you know it’s here!