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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Reducing noise in the automotive industry

Despite increased traffic, EU noise emission limits have not changed since 1995. As greater numbers of people are being affected by traffic noise, the European Commission has proposed to reduce the noise produced by passenger cars, light commercial vehicles, buses, light trucks, coaches, and trucks. The new Regulation for this was adopted in April 2014 and it will help reduce noise by around 25%.

What is going to change?

The new Regulation changes:

  • New test method – a new test method that better reflects current driving behaviour will be introduced. This method, developed by the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations (UNECE) has already been used in the EU for monitoring purposes over the last three years.
    • Lower limit values - for passenger cars, buses, and light trucks, the limit values will be lowered in two steps of 2 decibel A-weighting (dB(A)) each. For heavy-duty vehicles, the reduction will be 1 dB(A) for the first step and 2 dB(A) for the second step. The first step is foreseen to apply 7 years after the proposal’s publication date in the Official Journal. The second step will follow 4 years later.
  • Additional sound emission provisions (ASEP) – these will be included in the type-approval procedure and the existing exemptions for certain vehicle types will be revised. ASEP are preventive requirements intended to cover driving conditions in real traffic outside the type-approval driving cycle. This measure aims to ensure that the noise of a vehicle under street driving conditions does not significantly differ from when the vehicle is tested.
  • Minimum noise - a specific Annex on the minimum noise ('Approaching Vehicle Audible Systems') of electric and hybrid electric vehicles has been proposed. These requirements should ensure that only adequate sound generating devices are used in vehicles.
  • Noise labelling - to foster competition, some requirements on noise labelling at the dealership were introduced. Manufacturers will ensure that the sound level of each vehicle is displayed during its sale.

Supporting documents

Regulation (EU) No 540/2014 on the sound level of motor vehicles and of replacement silencing systems