A Tesla technician has confirmed that Tesla has begun adding a pedestrian warning sound to Model 3’s built from September 1st and on.
All Model 3’s produced this month include a pedestrian warning speaker that emits a high-pitched noise when the vehicle is operating below 19mph. The sound is different depending on whether the vehicle is in drive or reverse, with the reverse sound building to a crescendo — the sound in drive is more subtle, with a less noticeable whooshing sound that’s not totally unlike what Tesla owners are used to hearing now.
It appears that Tesla had designed Model 3 with the pedestrian alert in mind, as vehicles had previously included a speaker grille that was lacking a speaker.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Department of Transportation established a Federal motor vehicle safety standard in 2016 that requires hybrid and electric vehicles to produce sounds under 18.6mph that meet the requirements of the standard. This ruling requires that automakers begin incorporating pedestrian alerts to 50% of their hybrid or electric vehicle lineup starting September 1, 2019. By September 1, 2020 all electric vehicles will be federally required to include a low-speed pedestrian alert.
Tesla has decided to only add artificial noise as required by regulation, so by adding the low-speed alert to Model 3’s built this month Tesla is complying to the standard.
One of the benefits of an electric vehicle is the inherently quiet powertrain, so it isn’t surprising to see that Tesla has wanted to maintain its silence for as long as possible until federally required. While studies have shown that hybrid and electric vehicles are more likely to cause a collision with a pedestrian, those studies are largely based on outdated data and don’t specifically take Tesla’s into account. Nonetheless, the main benefits of the regulation are intended for blind pedestrians and we encourage all owners to drive with caution with the knowledge of how quiet Tesla’s vehicles are at low speeds.
This change only applies to new Tesla vehicles, and we don’t expect Tesla to start adding the low-speed pedestrian alerts to Model S or X until next year.
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