Powered by
Subscribe to the only car newsletter you’ll ever need

Are electric vehicles too quiet? Calls for mandatory external noise for EVs in Australia grow louder

Dylan Campbell

A push to mandate Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems (AVAS) in Australia is gaining ground

Should new electric vehicles be legally required to make noise when moving at low speeds?

That’s the question being posed to the Australian community by the nation’s top transport authorities, the Department of Infrastructure.

Lexus RZ 2023 front 3/4
The whisper quiet nature of EVs is great for drivers, less so for the visually impaired

Members of the community including those with visual impairments have voiced increasing concern as the electric vehicle revolution gains pace and more vehicles hit Australian roads making little to no low-speed external noise.

In 2017, Vision Australia together with Monash University released research suggesting that 35 percent of vision-impaired people have been hit, or nearly hit, by an EV.

In Europe and the United States, new electric models must legally come with external speakers (concealed in the bodywork) that produce some sort of noise at low speeds to warn pedestrians.

Nissan X-Trail Ti-L E-Power v Haval H6 Ultra Hybrid 2023 driving front
Some cars like the X-Trail E-Power already made artificial noise with external speakers

The United Nations even issues its own standard for AVAS systems. The standard decrees an electric vehicle must produce between 31 and 50 decibels (dB) up to 10km/h and between 36 and 56dB from 10-20km/h. 

Reversing should produce a noise around 47dB. The AVAS speakers should not produce more than 75dB.

For reference, a normal conversation is about 60dB while a vacuum cleaner is about 70dB.

In Australia, AVAS is not compulsory. Some electrified models come fitted with the system voluntarily by the car manufacturer, such as Nissan with its X-Trail E-Power or Hyundai with its Ioniq 5

Toyota RAV4 Cruiser FWD Hybrid 2022 driving side
The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid does not currently make any noise while driving at low speeds

Others, such as Toyota with its numerous hybrid models (which operate as EVs at low speeds) and the new electric Lexus RZ, do not.

The Australian Government’s National Road Safety Action Plan 2023-25 has committed to mandating AVAS subject to getting the community’s say.

Submissions in support or objection to proposed AVAS in Australia can be made before May 26 to the Department of Infrastructure at this link.