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Automakers Update Horn Sounds to Changing Markets

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Washington DC September 10, 2012; The AIADA newsletter reported that cars have gotten a lot more advanced in the last few decades, but at least one part – the humble car horn – has remained virtually untouched. Until now.

According to The Detroit News, as carmakers sell more vehicles globally, they're changing horns to comply with various international noise laws. They're using different materials to save weight and improve fuel economy. And they're making horns more resilient for markets such as India, where horns are used much more frequently than in the United States.

U.S. horns are typically 110 decibels. The United States has no specific standard, but there are some state and local laws governing horn noise. Although horn design is impacted by emerging markets like India, it is also impacted by the U.S. market.

GM recently changed the copper wire in its horns to lighter aluminum, which slightly improves fuel economy. Jason Wong, General Motors Co.'s lead global engineer for horns, said we're moving toward a world in which car horns will sound more similar. As companies bring out newer, larger models, they're transitioning to trumpet horns, which play the mellower chords familiar to Western ears.

For more on Detroit News' story on the evolution of the car horn, click here.