Road surface influences EV noise levels

Photo credit: Jiarong Deng from Pexels

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This article in the European journal Noise Mapping documents that the type of road surface is the major influence on electric vehicle noise levels at urban speeds.

This scientific research confirms my own observations that except when accelerating, or for vehicles, including motorcycles, with unlawfully loud exhausts, tire noise and not engine noise is the major component of vehicle noise.

My observations are limited to passenger vehicles. I’ve seen a few electrically powered trucks and buses when driving, but haven’t come across any while walking so I can’t comment on their noise levels.

Certainly diesel engines are generally noisier than gasoline engines, and garbage trucks appear to be the noisiest vehicles on the road.

Electric vehicles are generally quieter than those with internal combustion engines, but those hoping for quieter cities solely from increased EV use are likely to be disappointed unless road surfaces are also changed.

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