Tesla has taken steps to prepare its Model 3 for the upcoming regulation forcing automakers to have a pedestrian noise machine in electric vehicles.
After years of consideration, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) finally implemented what has now been known as the “quiet car rule” to force automakers to add a pedestrian noise device to its electric and hybrid vehicles.
By the end of next year, all new electric cars will have to emit a sound at low speed to warn pedestrian of their presence.
Tesla has been preparing for the change for years now.
Back in 2016, Tesla Model S schematics with a device for “pedestrian noise” leaked in the part catalogs:
Now it looks like Tesla is taking actual steps to modify Model 3 parts to fit the device in question.
Model 3 owner and Youtuber DÆrik spotted what appears to be a speaker grill in the underside of the front-end of his Model 3:
After looking behind the body part, it looks like there are mounting parts ready to install a device like a pedestrian noise machine.
During a Q&A session back in 2013, Tesla CEO Elon Musk answered a question from a Tesla owner worried about children playing in her neighborhood and not hearing her Model S coming at low-speed:
“There is this question of having the Model S make a noise. Obviously, the challenge is to avoid noise pollution at the same time.”
Musk continued by saying “we are in discussion with” but he was interrupted by someone in the crowd and he trailed off about the fact that there are two schools of thought on the issue.
“I think the sensible and ideal thing long-term is to have proximity sensors that direct a pleasant sound in the direction of where somebody is walking – so therefore, it’s the least amount of noise, and it’s not annoying, and it’s only going to where it needs to go. That’s what I think is the right long-term solution.”
The CEO continued and said that “it will take a bit of work to get there, but hopefully, that’s where things will end up.”
It’s still unclear if Tesla could implement such a solution with the new regulations, but it looks like Tesla is preparing the Model 3 to at least be able to emit a sound either way.
Other companies have already started implementing pedestrian noise system, like Chevy in the new Volt 2019.
I know that this new rule is controversial in the EV community. While most admit that quiet cars can be a problem at low-speeds, especially for the visually impaired, people also fear that adding a sound will remove an important benefit of electric vehicles.
While limiting pollution from fuel emissions is the main benefit of all-electric vehicles, EVs also limit noise pollution, especially in urban environments.
At higher speeds, tire noises are greater than engine noise and therefore, there’s not much of a difference between electric cars and gas-powered cars. But at lower speeds, EVs can be hard to hear coming.
While I don’t like the idea of increasing noise pollution, I get where they are coming from especially if I put myself in the shoes of visually impaired people.
That said, some modern gas-powered vehicles are also fairly quiet at low speed. I am not sure it’s worth singling out EVs in this case.
Either way, I hope a solution like what Musk is suggesting could become possible. I think it would be a good compromise.
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.