I think this bus example, or something like it, would be good to apply to the upcoming masses of electric vehicles for a few reasons.


The noise isn’t distracting or obnoxious, but is still enough to get your attention and warn that there’s a big bus on the way and to watch out. It a unique noise that’s enough to stand out, and the choice of a bell ring seems more natural and comforting than an annoying electronic beep or something similar. It’s also significantly different from just a regular honk from a car horn, and a lot less aggressive, too.

What’s also good about the bus bell is its seemingly selective nature. It’s not a constant alert, which would easily get annoying with a fleet of buses constantly ringing. The only thing I would change for EV application is driver control. Instead I would just have a timed chime that plays on a loop of a few seconds, perhaps with a rate increase that goes up as the car drives faster.


It’s also worth keeping in mind that eventually most of these vehicles will presumably come to have some sort of sensor package to detect pedestrians and map out road lanes, perhaps synching the chime to only play when the car is in a pedestrian-heavy area based on the sensor data could be a smart solution to avoid annoyance. The buses also still have a traditional horn, which the cars shouldn’t lose to make sure the driver still has their own way of alerting people.

I won’t say that this isn’t a tough challenge, figuring out exactly what noises EV should make, how loud and how often, having to balance alertness while preventing annoyance and the dangers of noise pollution, and my only advice is to look to the lovely bus chimes of Paris.