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."