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Middle Ground: NHTSA limiting but not standardizing EV warning noises

Toronto, Ontario — The NHTSA is nixing a proposal allowing drivers to choose the warning sounds emitted by their electric vehicles (EVs), in a compromise between consumer choice and pedestrian safety concerns.

This comes after negotiations between the NHTSA and automotive companies, who both agree that some kind of artificial noise output for electrified vehicles is required, continue to be strained on the issue of implementation.

Along with other advocacy organizations, the CBC reported that representatives from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind argued for the standardization of artificial EV noises.

Conversely, the NHTSA reported that multiple automotive companies continued to petition for greater consumer choice to choose what noises they’d like.

This ruling was initially created in response to the comparatively low volume of most electric vehicles and hybrids compared to internal combustion engine vehicles. While they do make comparable noise at higher speeds, they can become dangerously quiet at lower speeds.

In urban settings, this can be especially risky for pedestrians and cyclists with challenged or impaired hearing.

Under the final ruling, the NHTSA has restricted OEMs and consumers from having an unlimited variety of proximity noises for safety reasons, but also not require all OEMs to standardize their vehicle noises.

Essentially, your Toyota EV will still sound like a Toyota, but you cannot change its warning sound to a fart.

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