As EVs became more popular, the world quickly realized there was a significant issue. They’re sleek and silent. This looks great and produces that feeling of luxury, but it’s dangerous for others!
VESS on the KIA e-Niro protects other, more vulnerable road users. Its primary job is to warn pedestrians, but it also helps safeguard cyclists, pets, wildlife, etc.
This page contains a quick overview of what VESS is and how to enable or disable it. It focuses on vehicles with the VESS button (to the left of the steering wheel).
(On American e-Niro models, there’s no way to turn the VESS off. If you don’t have the relevant button, it’s essentially impossible. Sorry!)
Table of Contents
What is KIA e-Niro VESS?
VESS stands for Virtual Engine Sound System. It’s used to warn pedestrians of your car’s moving presence.
With electric cars, this is much more important than it might sound. EVs are notoriously quiet, with little to no noise from the powertrain.
The most prominent sound made by most road-going electric vehicles is tire noise. Other mechanical components, such as suspension and steering, might also generate small audible clicks and thuds.
As EVs (like the KIA e-Niro) become more popular, pedestrians will become more accustomed to looking for them. But for now, the silence could be deadly, as people or animals step out into the road without looking.
KIA’s VESS is one way to combat this and lower the risk.
Note that VESS doesn’t operate when your e-Niro is in Park. Pedestrians might not notice your vehicle is switched on, so always check before setting off. It’s always best to leave VESS on. In fact, in most cases, you won’t have a choice.
You’ll notice a particularly loud reversing warning if you have an MY 2020 e-Niro (or later). Most owners complain about the sound it makes while reversing onto their driveway. In the US, there’s no way to legally disable VESS.
How does VESS work on the KIA e-Niro?
VESS is a sound generated from the front bumper. It’s a low hum while you’re driving forward, and there’s an additional ding sound when reversing.
On American models (and many others worldwide), the KIA e-Niro comes with VESS, but there’s no way to turn it off. Owners have tried many retrofits and modifications (all of which could invalidate a warranty).
Trying to modify your car beyond KIA’s recommendations is never a good idea. You might severely damage control modules, resulting in costly repairs.
Enabling KIA e-Niro VESS
Most KIA e-Niro models have an in-built VESS. You can’t activate or deactivate it – it’s always on.
It’s very straightforward to turn VESS on in the KIA e-Niro. KIA recommends leaving it switched on in most circumstances, enhancing pedestrian safety.
Follow the instructions below to turn VESS on in the e-Niro. Of course, this assumes that VESS is switched off beforehand.
- Press the VESS button.
- You’ll find this on the left-hand side of the steering wheel.
- It’s between the blind spot assist button and the one for lane assist and traction control.
When the light on the button turns on, VESS is activated.
How to disable KIA e-Niro VESS
KIA doesn’t recommend disabling VESS. It’s much better to leave it on. Yes, the sounds might be annoying (especially the reversing ‘ping’), but they’re there to protect people.
On many KIA e-Niro models, you can’t switch the VESS off. There simply isn’t an option to do so. While some owners recommend modifications, you might damage your vehicle and get in legal trouble. It isn’t worth the risk.
If your car has a relevant button, you can disable the KIA e-Niro VESS through the same method as above. Follow the instructions below.
Again, this assumes that the VESS is already switched on. You’ll see the light on the button before you press it.
- Push the VESS button.
- Look to the left of the steering wheel.
- The VESS button (if applicable) sits in the second space from the right, between the lane assist and blind spot assist.
After pressing the VESS button, the light at the top will switch off. This means VESS is off.
You shouldn’t hear any noises from the car while moving.
Ensure you stick to local laws and regulations. Many parts of the world legally require EVs to make a certain amount of noise when moving/switched on.
Although removing a fuse or disconnecting the VESS speaker might technically be possible, these modifications are unwise. It’s better to put up with the sounds and accept them as an irritating niggle.
At least people walking around you are safe!
Consult your owner’s manual for the most relevant information about your car and model year. You’ll find a PDF version of the e-Niro’s below.