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The European Union is introducing a law that will mandate car manufacturers to include noise effects in electric vehicles. Starting today, all new electric cars and low-emission vehicles will have to produce a certain level of noise.

EU officials argue the quietness of the electric vehicles puts pedestrians and cyclists at risk because they cannot hear when a vehicle is near. New requirements under European law state all new electric vehicles with four wheels must include an acoustic vehicle alert system (AVAS).

AVAS produces a sound similar to a mechanical engine. Many people value the silence of electric vehicles, but the sound produced by AVAS is not as loud a traditional motor. Furthermore, the system is only engaged when the vehicle is moving at a speed at or below 19km/h.

EU officials say this is because there are more dangers when a vehicle is moving slowly, such as reversing in a parking lot. Drivers are also able to disable the system if they think it is safe to do so. It will be interesting to see the insurance implications if there is a collision and the driver is found to have disabled their AVAS.

If you’re interest in the sound, BBC Radio 5 Live published a video on Twitter today.

Coming in 2021

Speaking to the BBC, Michael Ellis, Minister of State for Transport in the United Kingdom suggested the government in the country agrees with the rule. He said he wants “the benefits of green transport to be felt by everyone” and “understood the concerns of the visually impaired”.

“This new requirement will give pedestrians added confidence when crossing the road.”

European Union has given carmakers until 2021 to prepare for the law. From 2021, all new electric vehicles will need to have the AVAS system on board.