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New noise systems will stop ‘silent’ electric cars

New regulations will require electric car manufacturers to make sure their vehicles can be heard more easily by all road users – including the visually impaired.

The regulations state that car manufacturers must now install an acoustic sound system in new types of quiet electric and hybrid electric vehicles, to produce a certain level of noise when the car is reversing or travelling at less than 12mph.The sound generated will be similar to a conventional engine but could be temporarily deactivated by the driver if necessary.

“The government understands the concerns of the visually impaired about the possible hazards posed by quiet electric vehicles,” Roads Minister Michael Ellis said.“This new requirement will give pedestrians added confidence when crossing the road.”

The regulation will apply to all new types of ‘quiet’ electric and hybrid vehicles from 1 July 2019, and to all new quiet electric and hybrid vehicles registered from July 2021.