All new electric vehicles must be fitted with a noise-emitting device from Monday, to warn other road users of their presence.
All new types of four-wheel eco-friendly vehicles must be fitted with the device, which sounds like a traditional engine.
From 2021, all electric cars must have an acoustic vehicle alert system, not just new models.
The device must be activated when a vehicle is reversing or travelling below 12mph, but the driver will have the power to deactivate it.
The charity Guide Dogs, which had complained about the difficulty of hearing low-emission cars, welcomed the change but told the BBC electric vehicles should make a noise at all speeds.
Roads minister Michael Ellis said the government wanted everyone to feel the benefits of green transport, and understood the concerns of the visually impaired.
Alternatively-fuelled vehicles such as pure electrics and plug-in hybrids made up 6.6 per cent of the new car market in May.
New petrol and diesel cars and vans are due to be banned by 2040.
The pressure group said a 20 per cent cut in car travel and an 18 per cent cut in flights was needed.
Lisa Hopkinson, of Transport for Better Quality of Life, which carried out the research, said: “While all other sectors have reduced emissions since 1990, transport is the only sector to have increased, while aviation emissions have more than doubled.
“Transport is not on track to a net-zero target, and we need to urgently include aviation in revised carbon budgets and constrain demand for flying and driving.
“As well as helping meet carbon targets, this would have enormous benefits for UK local tourism, air quality and public health.”