Electric vehicles will give acoustic warnings to pedestrians and cyclists. Image: SUPPLIED
Electric vehicles will give acoustic warnings to pedestrians and cyclists. Image: SUPPLIED

One of many positives of electric vehicles (EVs) is less noise pollution. But making them too quiet enhances the danger of collisions with pedestrians and cyclists. That’s all about to change when the EU acoustic vehicle alerting system (Avas) law is implemented on July 1.

The regulations state that the Avas will be activated for vehicle speeds up to 20km/h, with a minimum sound level of 56dB, equivalent to the sound level of an electric toothbrush or paper shredder.

Sound system guru Harman has developed its own Avas system, external electronic sound synthesis (eESS), with a number of carmakers in a bid to adopt the technology ahead of the looming deadline.

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The eESS creates a specific sound that is projected from speakers at the front and rear of the vehicle. Speed and throttle position sensors determine the volume and characteristics of the signal, warning pedestrians of an approaching vehicle.

The legislation also dictates the Avas sound should be continuous, providing the vehicle-driving behaviour to other road users and pedestrians — for example, generating changes in sound levels and pitch to signify acceleration just as a conventional fuel-powered vehicle would.

“Given the ever-increasing number of hybrid and electric vehicles on our roads, the risk to pedestrians, cyclists and vulnerable groups has risen exponentially over the years,” says Rajus Augustine, senior director of product strategy & planning of car audio at Harman.

“Avas technologies such as eESS offer an affordable and effective way of increasing pedestrian awareness of an approaching EV in noisy urban environments.”

Although not mandated by the EU legislation, Harman’s system is also designed to offer in-cabin sound to provide acoustic feedback on vehicle status. For example, the welcome sound when the electric motor kicks in or the shutdown sound when the motor is switched off will provide the driver with acoustic cues, which otherwise are not present in an EV.

Additionally, the system can allow for custom-designed sounds, thereby helping carmakers to create a signature sound that reflects the brand DNA of their cars.

MANAGEMENT CHANGES AT NISSAN SA

Nissan has announced senior management changes in its Africa operations. Mike Whitfield, currently MD of Nissan SA and Sub-Saharan Africa, has been appointed MD of Nissan Motor Egypt (NMEG).

Mike Whitfield, longtime MD of Nissan SA, moves to head Nissan Motor Egypt. Picture: SUPPLIED
Mike Whitfield, longtime MD of Nissan SA, moves to head Nissan Motor Egypt. Picture: SUPPLIED

He will also serve as chair of Nissan in Africa South. He will be based in Cairo and his appointment will be effective from June 20.

Shinkichi Izumi replaces Whitfield as MD at Nissan SA. Izumi joined Nissan in 2001 and has held various roles in sales, marketing and corporate planning. He was previously based in Nissan’s Japanese headquarters working within Nissan’s Asia and Oceania region.

Chair of Nissan’s Africa, Middle East and India region Peyman Kargar commented: “Nissan has a plan for rapid and sustainable growth in Africa. We were the first to assemble cars in Nigeria and our ambition is to lead the way in developing automotive manufacturing on the continent.

“The appointments … will drive performance in key African markets. Mike and Shinkichi both have extensive market knowledge and diverse experience within the auto industry. They will bring clear leadership and a strong customer focus to deliver growth and business performance.”

VOLVO AND UBER TEAM UP

In 2016 Volvo Cars and Uber agreed to jointly develop a production car capable of driving by itself. Several prototypes later, the Volvo XC90 SUV is the first production result of that merger.

First production-ready, self-driving Volvo XC90 SUV for Uber duty unveiled. Picture: SUPPLIED
First production-ready, self-driving Volvo XC90 SUV for Uber duty unveiled. Picture: SUPPLIED

The XC90 base vehicle is equipped with key safety features that allow Uber to easily install its own self-driving system, enabling deployment of self-driving cars in Uber’s network as an autonomous ridesharing service.

The most important features of Volvo’s autonomous drive-ready production vehicle include several back-up systems for steering and braking functions as well as battery backup power. Should any of the primary systems fail, the backup systems are designed to immediately act to bring the car to a stop.

In addition to Volvo’s built-in backup systems, an array of sensors atop and built into the vehicle are designed for Uber’s self-driving system to safely operate and manoeuvre in an urban environment.

When paired with Volvo’s vehicle platform, Uber’s self-driving system may one day allow for safe, reliable autonomous ridesharing without the need for a mission specialist, the specially trained Uber employees operating and overseeing the car in areas designated and suitable for autonomous drive.

“We believe autonomous drive technology will allow us to further improve safety, the foundation of our company,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Cars.

“By the middle of the next decade we expect one-third of all cars we sell to be fully autonomous. Our agreement with Uber underlines our ambition to be the supplier of choice to the world’s leading ride-hailing companies,” Samuelsson said.

TOYOTA, SUBARU COLLABORATE ON ELECTRIC CARS

Toyota and Subaru have agreed to jointly develop a platform dedicated to battery electric vehicles (BEVs) for midsize and large passenger vehicles and to jointly develop a C-segment-class BEV SUV model for sale under each company’s own brand.

They will combine their respective strengths, such as the all-wheel-drive technologies that Subaru has cultivated over many years and the vehicle electrification technologies that Toyota is employing.

Since concluding an agreement on business collaboration in 2005, Toyota and Subaru have jointly developed the rear-wheel-drive Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ in 2012 and the start of sales of Subaru’s Crosstrek Hybrid original plug-in hybrid electric vehicle in the US.