New Pedestrian Sound On 2019 Chevy Volt Is Calming, Futuristic

2019 Chevy Volt


Federal regulations are disturbing the sound of silence, but the new Chevy Volt gives us the next best thing

One of the greatest things about driving electric vehicles is the near silence. At least, that used to be the case. Earlier this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finalized rules on alert sounds that must be emitted from quiet cars. The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act was originally passed in 2010 but the finalized rules were delayed again and again.

In a preemptive move, Chevrolet plug-ins have produced a faint buzzing noise ever since the release of the Chevy Spark EV in 2013. Similar sounds were adopted for the 2016 Chevy Volt and 2017 Chevy Bolt EV. But the noise made by the current Bolt and Volt isn’t a particularly pleasant sound. In fact, it’s kind of annoying.

Thankfully the 2019 Chevy Volt noise maker is much easier on the ears:

While sitting in the vehicle, the driver and passengers rarely hear the noise. Unless they’re specifically trying to. Small speakers are placed in the front and rear of the car. The volume of the noise increases with the speed of the vehicle, then should taper off as it reaches speeds above 20 mph.

Many electric vehicle owners understandably prefer their cars be silent. Still, safety is a valid concern. The final guidelines require that electric vehicles emit noise loud enough to alert the vision impaired. This will only be required at low speeds, as tire and wind noise will be adequate above 18.6 miles per hour.

The new Chevy Volt pedestrian alert sound is turning heads

The new sound is a vast improvement over the current implementation in the 2018 Volt and Bolt EV. It has been likened to a space ship or angelic choir. It would not be out of place on a Brian Eno album. Don’t be surprised if you find groups of people surrounding the Volt meditating or doing yoga.

Those are all good descriptors of the sound.

But personally, it reminds me of the opening to the song Final Hours from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. The somber, ominous  tune plays during the final moments before the coming destruction of Termina. (But maybe that’s just me.)

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What do you think? Like the sound? Hate it? What does it remind you of? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Automotive News

Categories: Chevrolet

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39 Comments on "New Pedestrian Sound On 2019 Chevy Volt Is Calming, Futuristic"

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I would always go with that instead:

I think they should give us a choice of sounds!

It can be like a ring tone for your car!


The regulations state that all cars of a particular model must make the same sound and can’t be changed. I’m not sure why different cars can sound different but you can’t change your car to the sound of a different car.

I think it largely comes down to being more beneficial for visually impaired people. Having everyone have the option to have different sounds is going to hard to pinpoint that ‘hey, this is an EV coming up behind you!’ versus possibly someone’s ringtone blaring nearby. Though this thought does beg the question as to why they are allowing the noise to differ between not just makes but also models.

With that said as much as I’d like to agree with wanting to have the option to set our own sounds unique to our own cars, I think from a safety standpoint having a locked in and easily recognizable sound is a lot better.

Totally. There would still need to be regulations on the volume and tone of the sound. And it would need to sound like a ‘vehicle’ at all times.

But it would be nice to choose from a library of pre-approved sounds. 🙂

Unless your local DMV is checking to make sure it has the approved sound, I’d bet that tuner shops will be hacking the sounds a.s.a.p. Even then, there’d probably be a switch in the UI to change back to the official sound for vehicle inspections.

In-a-godda-davida baby!

+100 on this sound. For the Tesla Performance versions they should go with this:

This sound is horrific, annoying , and not at all cool . The Jaguar iPace sounds a lot better . I have owned a 2012 Volt for 6 1/2 years with 125000 miles on it , even bought a 2014 Volt for my daughter and love the cars and was looking forward to the upgraded 2019 Volt but I think I am definitely going to wait until they work on that sound .Give us options or somthing. At a drive thru people are going to be pulling their hair out ,it is a VERY EMBERRASSING sound there is no way I am buying that car with it sounding like that . GM PlEASE FIX THIS , give us a selection of sounds please don’t make a great car stop selling because of this easy fix. Make it sound like something you would want to ride in thanks I’ll be waiting.

I honestly genuinely like it. But yes I’d take the I-Pace sound first. Both are so much better than the current Bolt sound.

Everyone has different tastes though. More reason to give a sound selection! But it seems like the regulations will not allow for it.

You can yank the fuse—-er, I mean, if the fuse to the noisemaker “blows” somehow, your Volt is back to being ninja silent. Lots of current Volt owners have had their fuses blow. 😉

Glad my Model X is a 2018, this is the opposite of combating noise pollution. If this is only required for the manufacturer, on my next car I’m unplugging and capping the speaker connector.

Ignorance is bliss.

Less noise in town is a bliss and a stress relief.
What when 12 different sounds from 50 cars will “warn” you at the same time at a downtown crowded corner?

In my book, it’s a stupid regulation pushed by the cartel to put some more ridicule on EVs.

Heck at 10 MPH we begin to hear the sound of the tires! And impaired people have a better hearing than us.

I suggest you talk to someone who is visually impaired. My niece uses noise to help her determine how close a vehicle is and what direction it is coming from. Very helpful, especially in parking lots. Tire noise is dependent on the surface the car is on. On a gravel drive, she can hear tires much more clearly than on a well paved surface. Her hearing is within the normal range not “better”.

I think we can put up with the sound but it does not have to sound terrible for someone to hear it coming

In parking lots she can go as she pleases because the pedestrians has right of way. No need for noise.

This is exactly the reason why there are guidelines to have some noise. Heck, half the time people who are not visually impaired are watching their cellphone walking right down the parking lot while I drive my EV behind them, and they have no idea I’m there. Creating a small amount of noise to aid the visually impaired (and distracted pedestrians) until tire noise dominates is not anything near noise pollution.

While I love the silent drive of an EV, I can understand the need for this and don’t think of it as “noise pollution”

Yes, the 2016 Volt sounds like it’s got a loose alternator belt!

How about the pac-man sound?

Oh, that is fricken hilarious to think of.

Not bad, sounds futuristic. It still seems overly cautious, pedestrian accidents have been happening since people started using transportation with wheels, no matter how loud the vehicle. But on the other hand in my own experience as an electric car owner I have noticed, mainly in parking lots, that I can approach people walking without them noticing me.

The loudest part of a quite idling ICE is the tire noise anyway. I’m not sure why ICE’s don’t have a minimum required sound level.

I predict this will end badly. Bored modders will start tinkering with the sounds their cars produce, and it will quickly become fashionable to emit incredibly obnoxious sounds.

Being a pedestrian in a city is often a cruddy experience due to the noise and particulate pollution. EVs can dramatically improve both issues, which *might* in turn improve a host of other modern issues too (general health and physical activity, street life and street activities, neighbourhood engagement, sleep disturbances, road rage and general stress, building & car park designs, property values/uses on major roads, etc.) We have an opportunity to improve all of those, either minorly or majorly, at virtually no cost.

I know there are risks to quiet cars, but do the regulators have a good idea of what the risks are (given these rules were created in 2010, prior to any real EVs being on the roads), and what we might lose as a consequence? Have they looked properly at high EV penetration cities and looked for an effect size in terms of casualties and fatalities, and then compared it to social costs when cars make noise?

The best solution has always been the pedestrian horn, a la Gen 1 Volts. I wish all EVs had that. Too many peds walk around with earbuds or full headphones, clueless to the world.

I hate the sound in my Bolt. Just sounds like a whining inside the car. Since this tech is mostly aimed at alerting vision impaired pedestrians, seems like there should be a uniform sound easily identifiable so that they know what to listen for. If the sounds can be anything, a vision impaired person would have no clue if it is a car, bicycle, pedestrian with phone on speaker, etc. What is the real point of this?

Agreed on the Bolt sound! I usually do not hear it, but when I’m in a drive through I do and its not a sound I care for.

I’d much rather have this Volt sound.

Is it on even when the car is stopped? Why? Activate the damn thing only in motion!

It’s activated only when in a “gear” other than Park, and shuts off once it reaches a certain speed.

That’s what i thought. If the car is completely stopped the sound should stop. make it come on only when the wheels are moving. What’s next? Make the parked cars sing so blind people won’t bump into them?

That sound just set off our Shiba Inu even though she was at the other end of the house…….

She hates the Jeopardy theme song too.

Nope, that is just about the most annoying noise I could imagine. Just play fan noise or something natural sounding.

Time for aftermarket apps to “modulate” that sound.

It’s a stupid regulation. Use the damn horn.

I was at the dealer today to check out the 2019 Volt and I thought the sound sucked!
It might be a deal breaker

I want a button I can trigger that emits an “Hey! I’m drivin’ here!”

Nothing more embarrassing than backing up in a Leaf.