Ford has asked the US government to allow law enforcement vehicles an “off-switch”, exempting them from the upcoming electric car noise mandate, which requires vehicles travelling at low speeds to emit a noise to warn pedestrians.
According to text of the final rule (opens in new tab) uncovered by The Verge (opens in new tab), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it would respond to a comment made by Ford in 2015 regarding “the legality of equipping certain vehicles used for security purposes with a means of turning off the required pedestrian alert sound”.
In other words, Ford wants the ability to turn off the warning sounds for law enforcement vehicles – though it hasn’t specified exactly why and the comment itself was redacted (opens in new tab) as it contains “confidential and proprietary” information.
What is the issue with EV warning noises?
Some government regulators have ruled that electric vehicles travelling at low speeds need to emit warning sounds. This is due to the vehicles being too quiet, making it difficult for pedestrians (particularly those with visual impairments), cyclists and others to be aware of their presence.
Back in February, the NHTSA issued its final ruling which mandates that all electric vehicles travelling under 18.6mph (30km/h) must produce a warning sound by 2020.
The United States Department of Transportation recently mandated that, starting in 2020, all new hybrid and all-electric vehicles must emit a noise when traveling at under 19 miles per hour.
What's the ruling?
The NHTSA didn’t actually answer Ford’s comment. According to The Verge, the request was submitted its request after the public comment period ended (in October 2015) and therefore the NHTSA decided that “addressing the late comment would delay issuing the notice”. In other words, mentioning Ford’s comment was actually a mistake.