EU publish vehicle noise regulation proposal

The EU Commission have published a proposal for a new regulation on vehicle noise. This proposal will do the following;

  • Repeal the current requirements of 70/157/EC
  • Adopt the new noise test procedure developed in the ECE World Harmononisation Forum (ECE R51)
  • Reduce the noise limits for all vehicle categories over 2 stages with an average reduction of 4 dB(A).
  • Introduce Additional Sound Emission Provisions (ASEP) requirements
  • Require hybrid vehicles with ‘Approaching Vehicle Audible Systems’ to meet a harmonised specification.

Test Procedure:

The original test procedure used in 70/157 and ECE R51 had remained largely unchanged and therefore is no longer representative due to changes in vehicle technology, driving styles and amount of traffic. The UN/ECE noise experts decided that a new method must be developed before any further limit reductions can be made. The new test procedure (commonly known as Method B) was published in June 2007 as supplement 5 to ECE R51.02 and 2007/34/EC to amend 70/157/EC. In summary;

  • replaces the wide open throttle (WOT) test with a partial throttle test based on the Power-to-mass ratio (PMR) and target acceleration in different gears.
  • includes a constant speed test which is factored into the results.
  • uses the same ISO test track.
  • amends the engine speeds uses for the stationary noise measurement.

Noise limts:

After the publication of the Method B test procedure in the ECE regulation and EU directive, a 3 year monitoring period was implemented to collect data on the new procedure to be used when setting the limits (during type approval, data from both Method B and the old procedure was submitted to the EU). This was completed in June 2010 and a report was issued in March 2011 with the analysis completed by TNO. The recommendation from this report was included in the proposal; see page 117 of the report. There is a 2 stage reduction for all vehicle categories, with an average reduction of 4 dB(A), and concessions for heavy vehicles and off road vehicles. Allowances are also given for vehicles with a PMR of >150 kW/t.

In the ECE WP.29 noise working group, GRB, there are also discussions on the limits based on the monitoring period testing. A shadow database was managed by ACEA and the final report can be found here. There are a number of proposals, the latest being document GRB-54-03, where the categories are slightly different to the EU proposal (160 kW/t for PMR) and the introduction timing is different.

EU Proposal: The limits would be introduced over 3 phases; with reductions 2, 5 and 7 years after publication. For M1 vehicles, the total reduction would happen within the first 2 phases. See page 55 of the proposal. If adopted in 2012, the first phase would start in 2014.

ECE: The latest GRB proposal (from Germany) also introduces the limit reductions in 3 phases, but with longer lead times – 2, 6 and 10 years. There is also a difference in the limits of some vehicle categories. For example, M1 vehicles with a PMR over 160 kW/t would have an additional 4 dB(A) with the ECE proposal.

There will be a great deal of lobbying to ensure there is a balance between the environmental/health benefits and the cost/feasibility of manufacturers to comply.

Additional Sound Emission Provisions (ASEP):

These provisions were introduced as preventative requirements to cover driving conditions outside of the type approval test (Method B) but which are still encountered on public roads. There are 4 area’s to these requirements;

  1. Prohibits the manufacturer from intentionally altering any vehicle system to meet the noise requirements – this is often referred to as ‘cycle detection’
  2. Requires the manufacturer to sign a statement and submit to the Type Approval Authority (TAA) stating that the ASEP requirements are fulfilled.
  3. At the request of the TAA, additional data or the ASEP test may be requested.
  4. Include ASEP in the Conformity of Production plan.

The test procedure requires tests in multiple gears that fall within a number of boundary conditions (speed at AA, acceleration, engine speed etc). 4 test points are defined. 2 points are defined as the minimum and maximum speeds at AA within the boundary conditions, and the other 2 are calculated using an equation. The vehicle is then tested at each of these points and the noise levels recorded.

For the analysis of the results, a anchor point for each gear is defined and a   regression line/slope is defined. The expected result for 2 engine speeds is calculated and compared with the actual result. The actual result must be within 2 dB(A) of the Annex 3 limit. (this is a very simplified summary of the test, please refer to the proposal for the full text.)

During the ASEP development, 2 alternatives were developed and could not be agreed upon during the working group discussions. Therefore, the proposal also provides an alternative procedure to be used as the option of the manufacturer.

Running in parallel with the EU proposal, the final documents are being discussed in ECE WP.29. Document 2011/63 was discussed at the June 2011 session but it was agreed to postpone adoption until the limit proposal was put forward.

Approaching Vehicle Audible Systems (AVAS):

With the increase of hybrid and pure electric vehicles, there are growing concerns for pedestrian safety (especially for the blind) that these vehicles produce very little noise at low speeds. This section of the proposal lays down high level requirements for these vehicles to be fitted with an audible device that would warn pedestrians that the vehicle is approaching. The sound should be analogous to the sound of the vehicle and should not use alarms or other sounds.

Next Stages:

This proposal has been submitted by the Commission to both the European Parliament and Council as part of the co-decision procedure (now called the ordinary procedure). Both sides will review the proposal in committees and approve / amend the proposal. Once both have agreed all changed it is published in the Official Journal.

Within the ECE WP.29, the noise limits will be discussed at the next GRB session in February 2012. If adopted, could be put forward to the AC1 committee at the June 2012 for formal adoption. In early 2013, it would be enter into force as R51.03.

The following links can be used to follow the different stages of the process and future drafts and discussions.

European Parliament Procedure File: http://bit.ly/tDi5El
EU Comission Prelex file: http://bit.ly/vWqGv8
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