Electric and Hybrid vehicles making noise locally

We could soon be seeing more electric and hybrid vehicles buzzing around Australian roads, quite literally.

Talks have been ongoing among Australian authority leaders regarding the introduction of regulations that would see hybrid and electric vehicle manufacturers required to install an ‘Acoustic Alerting System’ in all new vehicles.

The ‘Acoustic Alerting System’ will emit a sound at low speeds to make up for the lack of noise made by electric and hybrid vehicles travelling at speeds under 20km/h, helping to alert vision impaired and distracted pedestrians.

Similar legislation has recently been put into effect around the world, with Europe implementing the regulations from this month, with America to follow suite next month.

A majority of new electric vehicles being released into Australia already come with sound emitting technology installed, as they are designed to meet overseas regulations.

However, the regulations present an issue for Hybrid models.

Toyota has sold more than 100,000 hybrid vehicles since the release of the Prius in 2001, with many of their models now coming as a hybrid option. Hybrid vehicles currently on the roads, as well as those due to be released in the next year or two, do not currently have the capability for the ‘Acoustic Alerting System’ to be installed.

A statement released from Toyota Australia reads: “At this stage, there are no plans to introduce a noise alert on hybrid vehicles in the Australian market. However, we will continue to work with governments and key stakeholders to ensure our vehicles meet future regulation requirements.”

The potential introduction of these sound emitting regulations come following a 2018 study done by Monash University Accident Research Centre and Vision Australia, which revealed that 35% of blind or low-vision people had a collision, or near collision, with an electric or hybrid vehicle.

Chris Edwards, Manager of Government Relations and Advocacy at Vision Australia, said the new regulations were significant for pedestrians, with the projected increase of hybrid and electric vehicles on the roads predicted to lead to more traffic incidents.

“With electric vehicles predicated to make up 90% of the entire Australian vehicle fleet by 2050, this outcome is significant for all pedestrians, especially people who are blind or have low vision who rely more heavily on other sensory systems such as hearing and touch,” said Edwards.

“This isn’t going to be an overnight fix, nevertheless we’re pleased significant steps are being taken to address what is a serious safety issue for all pedestrians, not just those who are blind or have low vision.”

While the noise currently being emitted by vehicles is restricted to a hi-tech humming noise, manufacturers have already begun the process of creating their own noise unique to them.

New regulations are expected to be ready by early 2020.

Original source: Drive.com.au | Electric and hybrid cars to no longer get the silent treatment

3 Sept 2019