Bubbles, bleeps and Linkin Park: electric cars now have to make strange noises by law

Electric car charging
Image credit: Shutterstock (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Electric cars are about to get a lot noisier. New legislation means that all hybrid and electric vehicles sold in the EU must be fitted with an acoustic vehicle alert system, which makes sound so pedestrians and cyclists aren't caught unawares.

The rule applies to all four-wheeled vehicles (so motorbikes and electric scooters are exempt), and means cars and vans must make some noise when traveling under 12mph or reversing, helping avoid accidents in parking lots.

There's no rule about what the sound should be, so different automakers are composing their own effects. Last year, Citroen unveiled the stubby-looking Ami One concept, which plays a jaunty tune to announce its arrival, whereas Mercedes-Benz hired Linkin Park to give its EVs a dose of rock. Yes, really.

Crawling in my Benz

Transport for London (TfL) is experimenting with acoustic alerts for electric versions of the city's iconic red buses, which are due to hit the streets later this year. Unfortunately, the proposed sound effects (which included a noise like someone blowing bubbles through water and intermittent beeps) haven't gone down too well in testing.

According to The Guardian, John Welsman, a representative from Guide Dogs UK called the options "all very spaceshippy" and complained that none of them sounded anything like the traditional buses that blind people are used to hearing in London.

“TfL want to know if they can create a sound that is not necessarily like a combustion engine, but is something new and unique," said Welsman. "The feedback from the room was that it would still need to be indicative of speed, direction, acceleration and deceleration of the vehicle.”

Source: BBC

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)