During the month of July, there will be two reveals that will demonstrate the relentless push toward vehicle electrification. First, luxury car maker Bentley will reveal, on the occasion of the brand’s 100th anniversary, a zero-emissions electric concept car, catchily called the EXP 100 GT which, say the company, will be its vision of the future of luxury mobility. Subsequently a Chinese company will announce their plans for a lithium-ion battery that will charge a sports car to eighty percent capacity in just four minutes and forty seconds.
With Jaguar Land Rover recently announcing a massive investment in the manufacture of EVs here in the UK, it seems our long-term driving future is now almost certainly electric; but there’s a problem. Electric vehicles and slow-moving hybrids are allegedly presenting a danger to vulnerable pedestrians because they are simply too quiet.
Let’s Make Some Noise
In fact, over the past twenty or so years, all cars have been getting less noisy, but it is electric and hybrid motors that are far too quiet. In the same way that people living adjacent to a railway line grow to accept the noise of passing trains, so our ears have become adjusted to the sounds of traffic, like it or not. The lack of noise from an approaching car then could be a problem for many and not just those with disabilities. An excited child, for example, attuned to listening for engines, might mistake silence for safety.
That’s why, as of right now, Acoustic Vehicle Alert Systems (AVAS) will need to be installed in new models of hybrid and electric cars registered after 1 September 2019 and all new hybrid and electric vehicles registered after September 2021. Although hybrids have an engine, they are capable of running on electricity alone. Vehicles will have to be equipped with an acoustic warning system activated when travelling at under 12mph (20kph). It can’t be musical in any way, lest they be mistaken for ice-cream vendors and the like so it has to be something else.
The Science Of Noise
We learn that the noise of EVs will be a combination of tonal sounds and white noise. Manufacturers, for now, will be allowed a degree of flexibility in creating unique audio brand identities. Interestingly, this is not as easy as it sounds.
This new automotive science comes with challenges if the sounds are to vary yet be within the law. For example, The Jaguar i-Pace, a fully electric SUV, is too quiet without artificial noise and AVAS is the answer. It appears buyers can expect a ‘hum’ that, in the company’s words, ‘reflects the character’ of the vehicle, whatever that means. The sound will emerge from a speaker behind the grille and will exceed the 56 decibels required by the new law. Passengers won’t be able to hear it, so it won’t become an annoyance. It is to be assumed that all car makers will follow suit with their own unique sounds.
Inevitably, this will be a slow process. For now, and for some years to come, petrol and diesel cars will hold sway as buyers await major improvements in battery range and ease of charging, sounds notwithstanding. Hybrid vehicles are fine because they offer both forms of motive power and, when used correctly, can improve on fuel consumption. For that reason, here at eCars247
, we always clearly post the fuel consumption and emission figures for every car we sell to enable our customers to make the decisions that are right for them.