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Automakers Urge NHTSA to Revise Proposed Sound Standard for Hybrids, EVs

March 20, 2013

In comments filed March 15 with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, automakers strongly urged the agency to revise its proposed minimum sound requirements for hybrid and electric vehicles.

Two auto trade groups, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Global Automakers, jointly expressed “serious concerns with the requirements as proposed” and recommended that NHTSA address their concerns to “avoid mandating alert sounds that would be louder than necessary, create driver and occupant annoyance, and cost more than necessary for the intended purpose.”

NHTSA was directed to propose a minimum sound standard for hybrid and electric vehicles as a result of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010. This legislation’s intent was to make sure that the blind and other pedestrians have an audible cue that hybrid and electric vehicles are nearby. Both the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Global Automakers collaborated with the National Federation of the Blind on the enactment of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act.

In their recently filed comments with NHTSA, the two trade groups reiterated their support for the proposed standard’s intent. But they asserted that NHTSA’s proposed standard was technically impractical and would result in an alert sound with an excessive decibel level.

“The resulting sound is not only too loud for purposes of customer acceptance and practicality, but it also overshoots NHTSA’s stated goals of pedestrian detectability and recognizability,” the groups argued.

The comments included a detailed technical proposal for an alternative minimum sound standard.

“We look forward to continuing to work with NHTSA and other stakeholders to improve these requirements before they are finalized,” Michael Cammisa, director of safety for Global Automakers, said in a released statement.

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