The Future of “Singing” Electric Cars

It’s official: the electric car is here to stay and bringing with it the promise of a brighter future. Indeed, the roads of tomorrow promise to be safe, environmentally friendly, and, as seen at this year’s Tokyo Motorshow, they could be full of singing cars. Over the past five years, the electric car has made the jump from futuristic toy to viable everyday transportation option. Charging stations are popping up around the country, prices have dropped to under $30,000, and many models now boast a range of over three-hundred miles between charges. Despite all the progress automakers have made in recent years, one problem still haunts the electric car, its noise; or rather the lack thereof.

Silent but Deadly

With no rumbling combustion engine to alert pedestrians to their presence, electric cars moving at low speeds can pose a real danger to those around them. A 2011 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded that pedestrians were 37% more likely to get in an accident with a slow moving electric car than with a conventional vehicle. As the years passed and electric car sales continued to increase, the NHTSA sought to take matters into their own hands. So, in 2016, they introduced federal standards requiring electric vehicles moving under nineteen miles per hour to emit an audible noise intended to warn pedestrians of the car’s presence. The NHTSA report goes on to add that the new standard is projected to eliminate over two-thousand pedestrian injuries, indicating this rule is likely here to stay. However, the new standard does not specify what noise these slow-moving electric cars should make.

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