The NHTSA has proposed new rules that if approved would force EV and hybrid automakers to install sound-emitting systems.
These rules were ordered three years ago by the Congress and are meant to protect bicyclists and pedestrians from cars that are almost silent under electric power. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that if such cars would make sounds at speeds of less than 18 mph (29 km/h), approximately 2,800 injuries over the life of each model year of vehicles would be prevented.
This speaker system would increase car and light truck manufacturing costs by about 30 USD, according to the agency's estimations. If the rules are going to be applied in 2016, the NHTSA says it will cost the entire industry 23 million USD. These rules would be applied not only to passenger cars and light trucks, but also to buses, heavy-duty trucks and motorcycles.
These speakers would have to be audible from the street in order to meet requirements. In addition, speakers would have to feature a digital processor that can play a chosen sound only at a low speed. Aside from the additional cost, this extra equipment will increase weight and as a consequence will add about 5 USD in fuel costs over the lifespan of a light car, says NHTSA.