All car manufacturers must install noise-emitting devices in new types of quiet hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) to ensure safety under new regulations that come into force today.
The EU law follows concerns that electric cars and vans are too quiet and pose a risk to pedestrians who may not hear the vehicles coming before they step into the road.
Vehicles in the UK must now have systems in place that produce a sound when they are reversing or driving below 20 kilometres per hour (km/h, or around 12mph).
The sound generated will be similar to that made by a conventional engine and the driver will have the power to deactivate it if necessary.
Roads Minister Michael Ellis said: “The government wants the benefits of green transport to be felt by everyone and understands the concerns of the visually impaired about the possible hazards posed by quiet electric vehicles.
“This requirement will give pedestrians added confidence when crossing the road.”