WASHINGTON—Auto makers would need to make hybrids and electric vehicles emit sound under rules that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed Jan. 7.
The rules, ordered by Congress three years ago, are meant to protect pedestrians and bicyclists from vehicles that make little sound when using electric power. NHTSA said that designing the vehicles to make noise at speeds below 18 mph would prevent about 2,800 injuries over the life of each model year of vehicles.
Adding the needed speaker system would increase the cost of manufacturing a car or light truck by about $30, the agency estimates—and would cost the whole industry $23 million in 2016, once the rules are in effect, NHTSA estimates..
"Our proposal would allow manufacturers the flexibility to design different sounds for different makes and models while still providing an opportunity for pedestrians, bicyclists and the visually impaired to detect and recognize a vehicle," NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said in a statement.
Before finalizing the rules, NHTSA must publish them in the Federal Register and address any problems that are brought up during a subsequent 60-day public comment period.
The rules would apply to passenger cars and light trucks, as well as motorcycles, heavy-duty trucks and buses.