Noise emissions of motor vehicles
Noise emission limits laid down in the EU law have not changed since 1995 despite increasing traffic. Given current levels of environmental noise and the number of people affected by it, the European Commission is proposing to reduce the noise produced by passenger cars, light commercial vehicles, buses, light trucks, coaches and trucks. On 9 December 2011, the Commission submitted the proposal for a Regulation on vehicle noise to the European Parliament and the Council. After a series of “trilogues”, the Council adopted the proposal on 20 February 2014. The position of the Council was endorsed by the Parliament in plenary on 2 April 2014. The Regulation was adopted on 16 April 2014.
The main elements of the new agreed Regulation on vehicle noise are as follows:
The old test method of the vehicle noise Directive (70/157/EEC) will be replaced by a new test method recognised internationally and better reflecting present driving behaviour. This new test method has already been used in the EU for monitoring purposes for three years. It was developed under the auspice of the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations (UNECE)
The limit values will be lowered in two steps of each 2 dB(A) for passenger cars, buses and light trucks; for heavy duty vehicles the reduction will be 1 dB(A) in the first step and 2 dB(A) in the second step. The first step is foreseen to apply 7 years after the date of publication of the proposal in the OJEU; the second step shall follow after further 4 years. The proposed reduction would apply to the noise values resulting from the application of the new test method.
Additional sound emission provisions (ASEP) will be included in the type-approval procedure and the existing derogations for certain vehicle types will be revised. ASEP are preventive requirements intended to cover driving conditions of the vehicle in real traffic outside the type-approval driving cycle. These driving conditions are environmentally relevant and it needs to be ensured that the sound emission of a vehicle under street driving conditions does not differ significantly from the vehicle tested.
A specific Annex on the minimum noise ('Approaching Vehicle Audible Systems') of electric and hybrid electric vehicles is proposed to be added. These requirements shall ensure that only adequate sound generating devices are used and it shall lead to a harmonisation of the applied technology. The fitting was made mandatory by the legislator for electric/hybrid vehicles (after 5 years/publication).
To foster competition, the legislator also introduced some requirements on the noise labelling at dealership. “Manufacturers shall endeavour to ensure that the sound level of each vehicles is displayed at the point of sale”. The Commission will have to carry out an impact assessment on further developing those requirements.
Regulation (EU) No 540/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on the sound level of motor vehicles and of replacement silencing systems, and amending Directive 2007/46/EC and repealing Directive 70/157/EEC
Press release: Commission welcomes Parliament vote on decreasing vehicle noise (02.04.2014)
Position (EU) No 3/2014 of the Council at first reading with a view to the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the sound level of motor vehicles and of replacement silencing systems, and amending Directive 2007/46/EC and repealing Directive 70/157/EEC - Adopted by the Council on 20.02.2014
Press release: Vehicle noise to be reduced (09.12.2011)