Are Electric Cars too quiet?

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Electric vehicles (EVs) are significantly quieter than traditional combustion engine vehicles, which makes them an environmentally friendly option.

The absence of mechanical valves, fans, petrol motors, exhaust and gears in EVs eliminates much of the noise that is present in conventional cars. However, this doesn't mean that EVs are completely silent, as they still create some noise when in motion.

Newer four-wheel EVs must have a sound system to warn pedestrians when the vehicle is backing up or moving slowly.

Are Electric Cars Quiet?

Unlike traditional combustion engine vehicles, electric cars are almost completely quiet. The main reason is that electric cars don’t require mechanical valves, fans or gears. However, whether a car runs on petrol or electricity, motion generates noise.

Therefore, the simple answer is yes: compared to combustion engine vehicles, electric cars are quiet.

Where does the noise come from?

When resting, the noise from an electric car’s engine is insignificant since it doesn’t even have an engine that burns fuel. Furthermore, the vehicle has no tyre or engine sound when standing still.

Since there were many concerns about pedestrians not being able to hear electric cars approaching. All new four-wheel EVs must have an AVAS (acoustic vehicle alert system).

This electric car warning sound system sounds like a regular engine. The AVAS must sound when the electric car is reversing or travelling at less than 30 km/h. A pedestrian should be able to hear the electric car above background noises.

However, this is not the rule worldwide, so the problem is still a cause of concern in many other countries.

In addition to the type of vehicle, the speed at which it is moving and the road conditions can all affect the noise output. For instance, a larger electric SUV travelling at high speeds on a bumpy road may make more noise. A little electric car travelling at low speeds on a smooth road is likely to be relatively quiet.

Tyres can make noises, depending on the road surface and this type of noise and the noise level is similar no matter what type of engine the vehicle uses.

electric car being charged

Residents living in homes close to major roads are looking forward to the electric car revolution, as it will make their environment and home more liveable

Why is being quiet important?

One of the main reasons electric cars being quiet is such an important topic of conversation is noise pollution. Noise pollution is one of the biggest contributors to sleepless nights with residents living near busy streets.

With electric cars becoming increasingly popular, reducing noise pollution observed during COVID-19 lockdowns may become permanent. At roughly 15km/h combustion, engine vehicles can generate up to 55 decibels. This is significantly more than the World Health Organisation’s recommendation for liveable habitats.

In saying this, tyre and wind noise account for a large percentage of noise pollution from vehicles, which are consistent in both vehicle types. However, many manufacturers have aimed to increase efficiency in their electric cars. In doing so, they have emphasised aerodynamics, which reduces the drag coefficient. This has allowed for reduced wind noise in electric cars.

Although electric cars are significantly quieter than combustion vehicles allowing for an overall reduction in noise pollution. Many electric car drivers have even complained about the absence of engine noise and vibration, as drivers now only hear wind and road noise. For gas-powered vehicles, sound-reducing materials are added without significantly impacting mileage. However, this cannot be done with EVs since adding extra weight reduces the battery range.

One of the funny observations with new drivers of an electric car is that as soon as they press the start button, after a few seconds, they press it again, as they never heard the roar of the starting engine, which is exactly what they are used to.

busy traffic

So how quiet are electric cars?

Electric cars are quieter than gas cars. It is hard to determine the exact difference in noise level because everyone’s hearing is unique.

Being so quiet that it is hard to tell where the vehicle is coming from, is not always preferred when one is crossing the road. Nowadays, it is crucial to check both ways before crossing the road. If you are driving an electric car, be extra careful and pay attention to pedestrian crossings.

In conclusion, even though engine noise is often lower in electric cars than in standard vehicles, drivers and passengers can still hear other sounds. Many people consider the quietness of electric cars to be a benefit, but it can also present some difficulties, particularly regarding pedestrian safety. Some nations have passed laws forcing electric cars to emit artificial sounds at low speeds to alleviate this problem. Just ask blind or vision-impaired residents who have demanded this feature be installed for a few years now.

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