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Do electric cars make noise?

Electric vehicles could transform U.S. cities — but not for the reason you think

EV charging station for electric car in concept of green energy and eco power produced from sustaina.

If everyone everywhere received a free electric vehicle at the same time — and owners were required to travel at really slow speeds across well-maintained roads — the world would sound different.

But that doesn’t mean it would be quieter.

People can have different feelings about the same sound. As the founder of the Community Noise Lab at Brown University’s School of Public Health, I am particularly interested in how we, as humans, decide what a sound is and what is a noise — which is what we call unwanted sounds. We perceive the sounds we experience daily in many ways, from quiet to loud. And they can make us feel happy, angry, or many things in between.

These feelings can affect our health by relaxing or stressing us. Studies also show chronic noise exposure can affect sleep and hearing and contribute to health problems like heart disease.

How loud are cars?

We know that gasoline-powered cars make a lot of noise, especially on highways where they can travel at high speeds. In 1981, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that nearly 100 million people nationwide were exposed to traffic noise every year that was loud enough to harm their health. At the time, this was about 50% of the U.S. population.

Many factors influence how loud a car is on the road, including its design, how fast it travels, and physical road conditions. On average, cars moving at around 30 mph on local roads will produce sound levels ranging from 33 to 69 decibels. That’s the range between a quiet library and a loud dishwasher.

This video compares the decibel levels produced by loud, moderate and quiet dishwashers.

For cars traveling at typical speeds on the interstate, around 70 mph, sound levels range up to 89 decibels. That’s equivalent to two people shouting their conversation at each other.

Electric and hybrid gas/electric cars emit very low sounds at low speeds because they don’t have internal combustion engines producing noise and vibrations. To ensure that pedestrians will hear electric and hybrid vehicles coming, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires these vehicles to emit sounds ranging from 43 to 64 decibels when they are moving at less than 18.6 mph. Each manufacturer uses its own warning sounds.

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At high speeds, there may not be much difference between gas-powered cars and EVs or hybrids. That’s because other factors like tire and wind noise become louder as cars move faster.

Urban noise is a serious health threat worldwide, and the main source is motor vehicles.

Quieter streets for everyone

Infrastructure also contributes to street noise. Cracks, depressions, and holes in roads can increase sound levels as cars travel.

Lower-income communities tend to have poorer-quality streets and highways. So failing to fix roads could drown out any improvements in a community’s soundscape from EVs, quite literally.

Another way to reduce traffic noise would be to build more bike lanes and paths in less-wealthy communities, which often lack them, and encourage people to substitute this cheaper, healthier, cleaner, and quieter mode of transportation when they can.

Electric vehicles are still out of reach for many people because most models cost more than gas-powered cars. So, in reality, the benefits of switching to electric-powered vehicles — such as lower fuel costs, cleaner air, and somewhat quieter streets — are going mainly to people who live in wealthier communities and can afford EVs.

That inequitable distribution of benefits is what the EPA calls an environmental injustice: a situation in which everyone doesn’t have the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards. To share those benefits more equally, electric vehicles will have to become as affordable as gas-powered versions.

Many people think of noise as a nuisance that’s less urgent than other, more pressing environmental issues like air and water pollution. As a result, governments fail to plan for noise, measure it, mitigate it, or regulate it in any meaningful way.

Noise is a significant environmental stressor that negatively affects everyone’s health and well-being, especially those most vulnerable. At Community Noise Lab, we aim to shed light on the public health implications of noise, argue for more holistic measurements of sound, and study noise with other environmental pollutants like water and air pollution, working alongside vulnerable communities across the United States.

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This article was originally published on The Conversation by Erica D. Walker at Brown University. Read the original article here.

Dodge hopes fake engine noises can trick traditionalists into buying an EV

The Charger Daytona SRT concept is an EV that uses a fake exhaust to produce engine-like noises, simulating the feel of driving a traditional muscle car.

Aug. 18, 2022

Electric vehicles are obviously better for the environment, but sometimes that faint hum from the electric motors just doesn’t cut it. For those of us who still want to hear the full power of an engine, Dodge has your back.

Dodge’s latest concept car, the Charger Daytona SRT, is a fully-electric muscle car with an actual exhaust. It’s not an exhaust in the traditional sense since there’s no internal combustion engine that it connects to, but it can hit up to 126dB, making it as loud as Dodge’s Hellcat models.

The Charger Daytona SRT looks like a modernized version of Dodge’s classic muscle cars. Dodge

Some of us are wondering what an exhaust is doing on an EV, since it arguably takes away from one of the benefits of driving EVs. But for Dodge, this mock exhaust is very much on-brand for its loyal flock of muscle car enthusiasts.

Like the real thing — For a concept car, Dodge has put out some very revealing photos. This could mean that Dodge is nearly ready to release an electrified Charger to market, although it will probably have some design exclusions.

Will the electric Charger that actually releases look similar to this concept? Dodge

Dodge opted for a two-door look for the Charger Daytona SRT, despite Chargers generally having four doors and Challengers having two. Dodge also drew inspiration from the spoiler design of the old school Dodge Daytona, incorporating it in the R-Wing design with the electrified Charger Daytona SRT.

Dodge pulled from its older spoiler designs for this concept car. Dodge

The centerpiece of the electric muscle car is its 800-volt electrical architecture that Dodge is calling Banshee. There’s no exact specs like top speed, or 0 to 60 mph yet, but Dodge is claiming the Banshee architecture is faster than the Hellcat models.

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In another attempt to make EVs feel more like driving a muscle car, Dodge is trying to imitate the sensation of shifting gears with its “eRupt multi-speed transmission.” Apparently you’ll feel distinctive shifting points when driving the Charger Daytona SRT. Between that and the exhaust sounds, you might actually believe for a second that you’re not driving an EV.

The closest you’ll get to real engine noises and shifting in an EV. Dodge

Passing the torch — With Dodge discontinuing its gas-powered Charger and Challenger models next year, it’s leaving a major void in its lineup. With the reveal of the Charger Daytona SRT, it looks like Dodge could potentially fill that gap with a market-ready Charger EV.

We’ve already seen some buzz about electric muscle cars, like with Ford electrifying its Mustang and a potential electric Chevy Camaro. But comparatively, they just don’t look as cool as Dodge’s conceptual Charger. There’s still the question if muscle car enthusiasts would actually adopt electric cars, but at least Dodge knows its target audience well enough to design something worth trying out.

Electric cars: The eight sounds your car might be making — and what they actually mean

National Trust 200,000

Electric cars are loved for their sleek styles, sounds and unique charging element, but it can be even harder to spot an issue when it comes to the function of your low emission vehicle. Whether you own a fully electric or hybrid model, most plug-in cars make more muted tones than fuel engines, but what do they actually mean? These are the eight most common sounds that your EV should be making, and the unusual signs to listen out for if you’re concerned about your car.

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Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming more popular each year, with an increase in consumer demand and government support for low-emission models fuelling the market.

According to Next Green Car, there were more than 420,000 pure-electric cars registered on UK roads by the end of February, and at least 780,000 plug-in models in total with hybrids (PHEVs) included.

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While most of these electric and hybrid models are notoriously quiet while on the roads, they do emit some sound while being driven or charged — but what are they?

These are the most common EV sounds explained to help you understand what’s normal, and what’s not for your vehicle.

Couple with electric car/ charging EV

Electric cars: The eight sounds your car might be making — and what they actually mean (Image: GETTY)

Electric vehicle

Electric cars: EVs are now legally obligated to make more noise to be spotted by pedestrians (Image: GETTY)


What noises are normal for electric cars?

Changes in legislation now require electric cars to make more noise than before, but it can still be hard to determine when to be concerned about the different sounds coming from your vehicle.

A spokesperson for said: “In the not too distant future, petrol and diesel powered cars will become less available, with many more electric and hybrid models taking to the roads than there were 10 years ago.

“These types of vehicles are very quiet, which is great for noise pollution levels, but some drivers may be concerned that if their car does make a noise, this could mean that something is wrong.”

EV’s can make more muted rolling, fanning, beeping and humming noises than petrol or diesel cars, and this is what they actually mean.

Charging EV

Electric cars: The eight sounds your car might be making — and what they actually mean (Image: GETTY)

Rolling noise

When an EV is being driven at a higher speed, the rush of the wind resistance and tyres can make a noise that may sound unfamiliar when you’re used to driving with very little sound.

This will become more prominent if you’ve recently made the switch from a petrol or diesel car, but it is nothing to worry about. The sound simply replaces the noise from the engine.


Charging cars rather than filling them up with fuel is the unique selling point of electric vehicles, but it can sound odd the first few times you do it.

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If you’re a new owner, then it can be hard to tell if the noise this makes is correct.

You should only hear the sound of the cooling fan while charging your vehicle, but if you notice something else — it could mean that there is something not quite right with your car.

Car type by registration UK

Electric cars: EVs will soon replace diesel and petrol cars (Image: THE EXPRESS)


Low speed noise

New EU regulations have now made it a requirement that an electric vehicle should make an artificial noise when it’s going at a speed slower than 12mph.

Though it may not be possible to hear this from inside the car, pedestrians, especially the visually impaired, will benefit greatly from this change.

Artificial tones

Some EV companies have developed new ways to alert pedestrians when a car is approaching slowly, using artificial tones.

These sounds often mimic car horns that sound less urgent or intense, and are more prominent outside the car than to those in the vehicle.

Personalised car sounds

Some companies have given drivers the option to customise their car sounds, to make it sound like any vehicle using up to five sounds in their soundtracks.

These are personal to you, so get to know your electric vehicle to familiarise yourself with these sounds.


Interior sounds

Unique interior sounds are used by some companies to make the driving experience more immersive.

For example, If the car is put into sports mode, the sounds of the vehicle will often mimic that particular model.

Hybrid vehicle error

If your hybrid vehicle is making a humming noise, chances are that the transmission pump is malfunctioning, and this could mean that there’s a problem with the torque converter.
Accelerating noises

According to, the electric Ford Mustang has a “bassy hum” when the driver puts their foot on the accelerator.

This is designed again, to make the driving experience more immersive and replicate how it would sound in a petrol or diesel powered car.

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