NHTSA Proposes More Sounds of Silence for EVs and Hyrbrids

NHTSA proposed to amend Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 141, Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles, to allow manufacturers of hybrid and electric vehicles (HEVs) to install a number of driver-selectable pedestrian alert sounds in each HEV they manufacture.

This proposal responds to a petition for reconsideration of the FMVSS No. 141 final rule published December 14, 2016. NHTSA is proposing to remove the limit to the number of compliant sounds that a manufacturer may choose to install in a vehicle. Drivers would be able to select the sound they prefer from the set of sounds installed in the vehicle. NHTSA is also seeking comment on whether interested parties believe that the agency should establish a limit to the number of compliant sounds from which a driver may select that a manufacturer may choose to install in a vehicle.

The automotive industry groups’ petition showed they had a different view of the language of the PSEA regarding multiple sounds per vehicle. Because the original Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for FMVSS No. 141 did not contemplate allowing driver-selectable sounds, the agency is opening this issue for public comment before proceeding with an amendment of FMVSS No. 141.

This proposed rule is deregulatory in nature and is expected to generate benefits and cost savings in excess of costs. The proposed rule provides manufacturers with more flexibility and options in developing and installing sounds for their hybrid and electric vehicles. NHTSA believes it is reasonable to assume that manufacturers would not utilize the flexibilities provided by the proposal to develop and install additional selectable sound options unless the benefits exceed the costs to them. Likewise, NHTSA believes it is reasonable to assume that consumers would not pay more for vehicles with additional sound options unless the benefits to them exceed any additional cost of the vehicle.

NHTSA is currently seeking comments.

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