While until recently, automakers have been working to make their car engines quieter, electric car companies have to deal with the opposite problem. In particular, BMW had to announce a recall of some batches of BMW i4 and iX 2022 and 2023 model years due to a malfunction in the sound generation system that notifies transitions when a car is approaching. In total, about 3,500 vehicles will be recalled.
US Federal Highway Safety Standards require electric or hybrid vehicles to make sounds to alert pedestrians when they are approaching. Because EV engines are fairly quiet, especially at low speeds (at high speeds, tire noise will usually be audible), automakers typically use sound generators for road safety purposes. For the i4, BMW even collaborated with renowned composer Hans Zimmer to create a sound reminiscent of an internal combustion engine.
According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the problem with recalled cars is that the noise generation system in these BMW models does not always work. According to the official recall, “the artificial sound generator control module may be defective and may not be able to generate an external sound to alert pedestrians.”
Apparently, repairs are quite possible with a software update, although it does not seem that BMW, by analogy with Tesla, is able to carry out all the necessary procedures “over the air”. The NHTSA noted that the software update will be free of charge, but the car will have to be delivered to the service location on its own. It is reported that letters to owners of electric vehicles subject to recall will be sent out before March 17.
It is noteworthy that in early January there was already news that BMW would recall the i4, iX and i7 models due to software glitches that could cause power problems.
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