Some BMW EVs do not play their pedestrian warning sounds

BMW is recalling nearly 3,500 electric vehicles due to issues with the artificial sound generator meant to warn people when vehicles are backing up or traveling at low speeds. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website, the recall applies to certain 2022 and 2023 BMW i4 and iX models.

Federal safety standards require electric or hybrid vehicles to make a certain amount of noise so pedestrians know a car is coming. Since electric motors are generally quite quiet, especially at low speeds (the tires will probably be quite loud on their own as you drive faster), car manufacturers usually make their cars emit artificial sounds. It often ends up being a futuristic buzz; for the i4 performance models, BMW even worked with Hans Zimmer to create a sound meant to evoke the idea of ​​a gasoline engine.

The problem with affected cars is that the system that makes the noise doesn’t always work. According to the recall, “the artificial sound generator control unit may encounter a fault and fail to generate the external pedestrian warning sound.”

It’s apparently fixable via a software update, although it doesn’t look like BMW is taking the Tesla approach of doing it over the air. The NHTSA advisory states that “dealers will update external artificial sound generator software free of charge,” implying that you will still need to bring your car in for repair. If you own one of these cars, keep an eye out for a notification letter from BMW, due March 17.


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