New rules coming into force today (1 July) dictate that all new fully electric vehicles must be fitted with an audible warning device to aid safety.
In response to concerns that EVs pose a risk to pedestrians at low speed, the new ‘Regulation on the Sound Level of Motor Vehicles’ calls for silent vehicles to emit a sound when travelling at speeds under 12mph, or reversing.
An acoustic vehicle alert system (AVAS) will generate a noise similar to that made by conventional combustion engines, and can be deactivated when judged necessary by the driver.
The devices will be fitted to all new EVs with at least four wheels sold in the UK henceforth, and hybrid vehicles from July 2021 onwards.
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.
“This new requirement will give pedestrians added confidence when crossing the road.”
A number of manufacturers, including Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota, already have some sort of AVAS fitted to their electric vehicles. Jaguar has equipped the I-Pace electric SUV with a system specifically tuned for the visually impaired, developed in conjunction with UK charity Guide Dogs for the Blind.
The new law comes as part of a government drive to facilitate the mass roll-out of zero-emissions vehicles.
The sale of new combustion-engined vehicles is set to be banned in the UK from 2040 onwards, although government advisors recently called for this to be brought forward to 2030.