Tuesday 12 December 2017

Electric cars getting fake 'vroom' in bid to make them safer

Renault Zoe Z.E.
Renault Zoe Z.E.

Paul Melia Environment Correspondent

AN ARTIFICIAL 'vroom' will be fitted to electric vehicles under plans to make them safer for pedestrians, cyclists and the visually impaired.

The European Commission plans to make manufacturers install 'Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems' (AVAS) on all new vehicles amid concerns they pose a risk to vulnerable road users.

This is because the cars are effectively silent, particularly at low speeds, meaning people cannot hear them.

While there are no recorded incidents of EVs being involved in serious collisions, there are concerns that as they become more popular, they could pose a significant hazard.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, in response to a parliamentary question from David Stanton, said Ireland had progressed the plans during its term as president of the European Council in the first half of last year because of the road safety issues involved.

"The Road Safety Authority chaired the working group meetings at which this proposal was progressed," he said.

"Early in the discussions, Ireland made a submission that hybrid and electric vehicles would require the mandatory fitment of AVAS.

"Other member states were supportive of these proposals, and by the end of the Irish presidency a consensus was achieved, which requires vehicle manufacturers to install AVAS in new types of vehicles within four years and then to all new vehicles within six years."

The proposal will go to the council of ministers, and it is expected the regulations will be adopted before the end of the year.

The regulations set out what an AVAS is, noting they will apply to EVs and hybrid electric vehicles, which use both an electric engine and conventional petrol engine.

"The sound to be generated shall be a continuous sound that provides information to the pedestrians and other road users of a vehicle in operation," they state.

"The sound should be easily indicative of vehicle behaviour and should sound similar to the sound of a vehicle of the same category equipped with an internal combustion engine."

Renault, which manufactures EVs including the Kangoo ZE and ZOE, which will be launched in April, said its vehicles had a choice of sound systems fitted as standard, including 'sport' and 'pure'.

So far this year, 65 EVs have been sold and another 362 hybrids.

Irish Independent

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