NHTSA proposes new set of sound requirements for electric vehicles and hybrids

Article by Christian A., on January 11, 2013

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a proposed a new set of sound requirements for electric vehicles and hybrids. These standards will be addressing the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act that became a law in 2010. The new standards seek to prevent these vehicles from creeping up on unsuspecting pedestrians at slow speeds at less than 18 mph.

There isn’t any way for the blind and visually impaired to be alerted to the approach of electric and hybrid vehicles. The agency is proposing that all manufacturers would be required to raise the volume on their electric and hybrid vehicles. The vehicle would also need to be audible in a busy city setting. Automakers can select from a wide variety of sounds however it has to comply with certain minimum requirements.

In addition, cars that have the same make and model have to make the same sound. When the vehicle is moving faster than 18 mph, it doesn’t have to make a sound since tire noise and other sounds are loud enough to alert pedestrians and bicyclists. But even without these standards, car companies have begun to develop safety systems that permit their quieter products to be heard by pedestrians.

Ford had asked its Facebook fans in 2011 to determine the sound they preferred on the Focus Electric. Before this, Lotus has started to test an external sound system on a Toyota Prius, which may adjust volume levels based on pedal pressure and was believed to be almost inaudible to the driver.

The agency thinks that if these standards are implemented, there will be 2800 fewer pedestrian and cyclist injuries each year. This proposal was newly filed with the Federal Register, where the public will get the chance to read the full article and comment on it as soon as it is published.

The fuel-powered Ford Focus is generally known to combine athleticism and agility. With this as a basis, it is no surprise that the Focus Electric is able to have the same handling, steering feel, and even braking feel. This means that the Focus Electric is a driver’s driver that can easily be considered as dynamic. Because there is no need for any diesel-powered engine, or gas-powered one, plus the fact that the aerodynamics is truly excellent, the in-car experience is both comfortable and quiet.

Focus Electric is not just about having reliable operation or being energy efficient, it is also about better driving enjoyment. By having the all-electric powertrain combined with the single-speed transmission, response is immediate with acceleration showing to be smooth. Maximum speed has been measured to be 84 mph (136 km/h).

In addition to performance, the Focus Electric has a number of security and safety systems equipped as standard. Examples include the electronic traction control and the six airbags. For the North American market, Ford will be offering the MyKey and the SYNC hands-free telephone connectivity. The use of environment-friendly materials can be seen as well like the bio-foam seat cushions and even with recycled fabrics.

Still for the North American market, the Focus Electric will have its very own implementation of the brand’s driver connect technology known as MyFord Touch. Additional features included as standard are the 60/40 split rear bench seat, aluminum 17-inch 15-spoke wheels. The inside shows the push-button start, Sirius Satellite Radio with Travel Link, AM/FM/CD/MP3 Sony Audio with nine speakers, voice-activated Navigation System, and HD Radio.

Ford’s director for electrification programs and engineering Sherif Marakby revealed that compared to any other electric vehicle available on the market, the Focus Electric still has the qualities and dynamics of a standard car. It has, he added, many of the premium elements that are present in the gas-powered version. He continued by saying that the Focus Electric continues to have that well-known efficiency and the exciting and unique driving experience.

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