London - All new electric cars sold in Europe from July will need to be fitted with a device that makes fake engine noises – after safety campaigners warned they are too quiet and pose a danger to pedestrians.

New car models must come with an acoustic vehicle alert system (Avas), and this includes hybrids, so that other road users can hear them.

The noises will mimic the sound of a conventional engine and will be activated if the car is reversing or travelling below 19km/h. However, drivers can switch off the system if they deem it appropriate - for example in slow-moving traffic on a freeway.

The directive from the European Union will also apply to all new electric and hybrid cars registered in the bloc from July 2021 – so owners of existing vehicles will have to retrofit the device. The Department for Transport said the new precautions should give ‘added confidence’ to vulnerable road users including the blind and partially sighted.

Roads minister Michael Ellis said: "The Government wants the benefits of green transport to be felt by everyone, and understands the concerns of the visually impaired about the possible hazards posed by quiet electric vehicles."

The law has been welcomed by campaigners including Guide Dogs for the Blind, which said electric cars are 40 percent more likely to hit a pedestrian than a normal vehicle. 

But why not at all speeds?

However some advocates have called for electric cars to make artificial sounds at all speeds. 

The artificial noise will be between 56 to 75 decibels, which is similar in loudness to a running air conditioner, according to tech news website New Atlas. 

To cut carbon emissions, a number of EU countries have announced plans to phase out fossil fuel vehicles in the next decade or so. Meanwhile, sales of electric vehicles keep rising over the years. 

Daily Mail & Xinhua