Volvo develops alerts that warn of electric trucks’ sound of silence

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 27 May 2021


The sounds are designed to not penetrate through walls, to allow for quiet nighttime deliveries and contribute to better working conditions.

Volvo Trucks has developed an acoustic alert system with unique sounds for its electric truck models. The Volvo- designed alert will increase safety by making pedestrians, cyclists and other road users aware of approaching trucks, which would otherwise be nearly silent. At the same time, the sounds are designed to be pleasant and unobtrusive, both for the driver and others close by.

Starting July 1, 2021, all new electric vehicles in the EU will be required to emit a certain sound level when travelling at speeds below 20kph. The sound level required depends on the speed and gets higher as it increases. At the maximum speed of 20 kph it should be at least 56 decibels. The US has similar legislation for vehicles when driving 30kph or slower. If the vehicle is too quiet, an external acoustic vehicle alerting system (AVAS) must be added.

To meet the new requirements, and at the same time maintain the benefits of lower noise levels that come with electric vehicles, Volvo Trucks has developed a unique set of premium sounds for its electric truck models.

“We truly welcome this new legislation. From when we were children, we have learnt to rely not only on what we see, but also what we hear in traffic – sometimes so much so that we don´t even look before crossing a street! With our new alert system, we want to help ensure that pedestrians and cyclists notice when they are close to our electric trucks,” explains Anna Wrige Berling, Traffic and Product Safety Director at Volvo Trucks.

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Developed by acoustics experts
The range of sounds are the result of thorough research and testing by the Volvo Group’s own acoustics experts. “We are particularly proud to have developed high quality, premium sounds that are noticeable enough to warn people close to the truck, and yet still pleasant for the driver and other road users,” says Berling.

Notably, the trucks will still be much quieter than conventional trucks.

"The sounds are designed to not penetrate through walls. Our electric trucks will still allow for quiet night-time deliveries and contribute to better working conditions for the drivers and a quieter, cleaner environment,” says Berling.

Four different sounds
The Volvo-developed acoustic alert system for EVs is actually not just one but four different sounds, informing people close by about what the truck is doing: moving forward, idling, reversing, etc. The sounds will vary in intensity, based on truck speed and will shift in frequency during acceleration and deceleration.

With the recently announced start of sales of three new heavy duty electric truck models – the Volvo FH, FM and FMX – Volvo Trucks now has a line-up of six medium and heavy duty electric trucks. This is currently the most complete commercial electric truck range in the industry.