Possibly one of the best features of electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles (aside from producing fewer or zero emissions) is that they operate very quietly. While it may be great for the drivers and occupants of these vehicles, the European Union (EU) thinks it is not particularly safe for pedestrians. Unlike a traditional internal combustion engine vehicle which can be heard, pedestrians will have a harder time hearing these quieter electric and hybrid vehicles. This then makes them potentially risky for the blind and visually impaired people.
In order to keep pedestrians safer on the streets, the European Parliament has announced that all electric and hybrid vehicles developed and sold within the EU must be equipped with an acoustic sound system. They won't be producing a sound all the time though. Instead, the vehicles will only be producing a sound when they are reversing or driving below 19 km/h (12 mph).
The sound produced by the acoustic vehicle alert system (AVAS) according to the EU will be similarly as loud as that of a standard internal combustion engine. It won't be a permanent function either as drivers will be able to disable the system if they want. By 2021, the EU wants all electric cars to have AVAS standard, and not just on brand new models.
At the moment, some manufacturers already have a similar system installed in their upcoming EVs and hybrid vehicles. BMW, however, wants their next EV concept to have a sound worthy of Hollywood science fiction. So, they recently tapped Hans Zimmer, the famed composer of Hollywood's greatest blockbusters like Inception, Interstellar, Gladiator, The Dark Knight trilogy and many others, to compose a sound for the BMW M Next concept car.
For those curious, you can already listen to what the M NEXT will sound like in a clip posted by BMW on their website. Personally, it sounds really good and would fit straight out of the Bladerunner 2049 movie.
The EU didn't say what the acoustic sound should be like. So having Hans Zimmer on board at BMW will ensure that their future EVs will definitely sound cool. We wonder if other manufacturers will contact other famed composers as well.