EU finds electric vehicles are just too quiet


THE ADDITION of artificial noises to electric cars is to be made mandatory under a directive being drafted by the European Commission.

Chief executive of the Road Safety Authority Noel Brett has written to Dublin City Council’s traffic department advising it of the commission’s plans after concerns about noiseless vehicles were raised at a council meeting.

In his letter, Mr Brett said the commission had become aware of the dangers arising from the “quietness” of electric cars but that there were no regulations which would require an electric vehicle to have a minimum noise level.

The current motor vehicle noise directive was 15 years old and dealt with limiting the noise emitted by cars, lorries and motorbikes.

The commission has decided certain vehicles were “considered too quiet and present a danger to other road users, particularly at low speeds”, the letter said. The commission intends to have a draft of the directive completed before the summer.

Mr Brett yesterday said no action would be required by the State as the requirement would be on car manufacturers.

The type of noises used and their decibel level would be determined by the commission, Mr Brett said. “It’s important that it’s decided at EU level because we don’t want 20 different sounds that will just confuse people. People need to be aware straight away that there’s a car approaching.”

No electric cars have been registered in the State so far this year. Grants of up to €5,000 were to be offered on the purchase of electric cars from January 1st, but the scheme has yet to be put in place. The Government has set a target of having 6,000 electric vehicles on the roads by 2012.