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The most significant recent change in the world of automobiles is the arrival of the electric car. With gasoline and diesel seemingly on the verge of exhaustion and the price of fuel increasing, electric cars are gaining popularity.
It has been predicted that 40% of the entire automobile sector will be electric by the end of 2030.
As much as electric cars are making the news in today’s market, there are certain repercussions that come along with them. With repercussions, comes the question “Are electric cars quieter?”
Electric cars have virtually no noise which can actually be dangerous! To help with those electric car manufacturers have made their cars produce noise to help warn pedestrians that the vehicles are there.
I recently rode on an electric trolley when I was on vacation in Colorado. When the trolley pulled away from the stop I was entirely unprepared because there was virtually no noise at all!
In this article, I will go into more detail about the above question but also provide more details of how electric cars taking over the car market might impact human civilization.
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Electric Cars And Noise
When talking about noise in cars, let us first discuss the types of noises that a vehicle makes.
a. Aerodynamic Noise: noise associated with airflow over vehicles.
b. Propulsion Noise: noise from the engine, exhaust, and drive-train.
c. Tire-Pavement Noise: the noise made by tires while running on the road.
Propulsion boise dominates over aerodynamic and tire-pavement noise for all types of vehicles. Electric cars have very low to no propulsion noise, making them quieter than their combustion fuel counterparts.
Hence, to answer the question simply: Yes, Electric cars are in fact much quieter than regular gasoline, diesel cars, especially at lower speeds (up to 15 mph).
At higher speeds though(speeds above 20 mph) the aerodynamics, and tire-pavement noises start taking over the propulsion noise. This leads to a path for more noise in electric cars.
Although these electric cars may be quieter than normal fuel cars, the total noise index in the communities will barely decrease.
Heavy vehicles have much louder propulsion noise so when and if they turn to electric in the future, there is a large chance that the noise pollution index will decrease by a large amount.
Electric cars may lead the way to a virtually noiseless future, but it has certain implications that cannot be ignored completely.
Can Car Noise Actually Be Good?
Electric cars are known for their noise free drive. But sometimes that may not be the best thing.
There are pedestrians and people with bad vision problems who rely on sound while being outside.
Now, electric cars at lower speeds have almost no noise. So how are the people with more sound dependency going to be aware of the cars’ presence?
With an ever increasing number of electric cars, studies showed that electric cars could cause injuries to individuals at a rate of 40% more than that of standard vehicles.
So, there was a problem that needed a solution.
The EU then came up with an electric car noise law in order to help pedestrians hear approaching vehicles.
According to this law, all the electric vehicles had to be fitted with AVAS (Acoustic Vehicle Alert System). This system will make sound whenever the vehicle is in a low-speed range (up to 18.6 mph).
The AVAS in electric vehicles will emit sound at a minimum frequency of 56 decibels, which is about the sound level of an indoor conversation, making less noise, but spreading more awareness of its presence.
This has helped to reduce the number of injuries to pedestrians since they can hear the vehicles coming again.
Will Electric Vehicles Make Roads Quieter?
With minimum noise production, the supposed answer to this question is yes. Though smaller vehicles running electric already have lesser noise, the real impact of lower noise on society will be when the heavy-duty and commercial vehicles start going electric.
While running on combustion fuels, their propulsion noise is huge. To decrease that, they have to go electric.
What will remain are the aerodynamic noise, the tire-pavement noise, and the AVAS. These are minimum noises that are much quieter than that of combustion fuel vehicles.
Talking about Harley-Davidsons, sports cars, and giant trucks, these vehicles have manufacture-based spiking noises like that of broken mufflers or intentionally noisy combustion. Now, electric vehicles do not come with mufflers, hence reducing the possibility of these vehicles being muffle-free.
In the long run, when electric vehicles finally do take over, these intentional noises will also be diminished.
The squealing noises of the tires will also diminish with the advent of electric cars. Electric motors are controllable at all RPMs with better traction control.
This will also help reduce the traffic noise.
Although the basic traffic noises will barely decrease in the near future, the urban road traffic noise will definitely decrease, as quieter engine sounds dominate at lower speeds.
Hence, changing to electric cars will surely impact the roads and make communities a little quieter, but it might take multiple years.
Are Noiseless Cars The Future?
Electric vehicles are undoubtedly the future, which means they will probably control the soundscape of the future as well.
There are some car enthusiasts who want their cars to have a better engine, better fuel-saving capacity, but with the noise of an old engine model. They prefer noisy over quiet.
Electric cars, although quieter, have resorted to switching to various noises starting from old classic cars to the noise of dinosaurs. While this might sound fascinating, these are the sounds that are going to roar through the roads in the future.
People might be left confused by all the different noises coming from different electric vehicles.
This might lead to short-term chaos, but these are mere speculations made by the information that we have in our hands today. These fake engine noises are used in combustion vehicles, even today.
So yes, electric cars are likely to cause our roads to be more and more noiseless all of the time and in return the people living or working near those roads will enjoy a much more peaceful future.
The aim of the future is to make our communities quieter by reducing noise pollution. Electric vehicles are stepping stones towards the dream.
Low-level sounds will not be eliminated completely as we have seen in this article, but we will surely have a more peaceful and quiet future.
Although the AVAS has made sure of the safety of pedestrians from the naturally quiet electric car movement at lower speeds, there are analysts who argue that these warning signs should be made available at all speeds.
Even if they are implemented at all speeds, the roads will still be far quieter than they are now.