Let’s Hear it for Electric Cars!

Electric cars — By on January 23, 2011 at 7:46 am
Chevy Volt driving in traffic Lets Hear it for Electric Cars!

Safety concerns on the rise as EVs hit the road this year

Let’s hear it for electric cars!  No really.  I mean, let’s hear electric cars….

As electric cars hit mainstream markets this year in greater numbers, safety concerns about their operation are on the rise.  That’s because, without a combustion engine, electric vehicles operate practically silently.

You might not hear them driving behind you as you are riding a bicycle.  Perhaps your kids won’t hear an advancing vehicle when they are playing near a street.  Sight-impaired individuals also rely on their sense of hearing to warn them when they approach crosswalks.

Electric car noise issues are not just limited to 100% electric powered vehicles.  Plug-in electric hybrids also operate very quietly.

As detailed in this related post, this is the proposed solution to the electric car sound issue:

“Two new solutions may solve the problem of too-silent hybrids. A year ago, Stanford University researchers in electrical engineering, the biosciences and sound engineering founded Enhanced Vehicle Acoustics, which markets external sound systems for hybrids. EVA’s sound system for the Toyota Prius, which runs only on electricity at low speeds, emits sounds similar to that of a regular combustion engine, but at a fraction of the sound level. When the hybrid reaches speeds of 20 to 25 mph the sound produced by the tire noise and wind generated by the car is normally sufficient for bystanders to hear so EVA’s system shuts off.”

Adding “fake” car sounds to electric vehicles and hybrids is described in this video:

Its one thing for auto manufacturers to incorporate sound-related safety features in their vehicles.  But the government wants to make that feature standard.  Recently, President Obama signed the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, which will  require that hybrids, electric vehicles, and other vehicles produce some sound to help keep pedestrians safe.

While we wean ourselves off foreign oil with EVs and PEHVs, eventually we won’t have to worry about trading one issue for another.  So, let’s hear it for electric cars!

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10 Comments

  1. nan says:

    I know that when my hybrid is in electric mode in a parking lot or driving down my road, I startle people that are walking. It’s dangerous.

  2. admin says:

    Gosh Nan, that is scary. I wonder if there is a retrofit “fix” they can make to cars that are already on the road. Thanks for sharing, Steph

  3. Leah says:

    It is true that electric cars are so quiet that they can pose a threat to pedestrians, the blind, and wildlife. Take a look at this video to see what kind of sounds manufacturers are adding to the cars

    http://ecomobility.tv/2011/01/13/designing-futuristic-sounds-electric-vehicle/

  4. Nathan says:

    Why do we want to make MORE noise in cities.. The major advantage is that electric cars are green AND quiet.. This “let’s make them make noise” rubbish is insane.

  5. bill says:

    Ok, thats got to be the stupidist thing I have ever seen. So lets make everyone miserable, for the tiny percentage of people who do not have assistance when crossing the street (handicapped or otherwise).

    Why not outlaw cars because some people cannot drive? No, I know, why not attach a small motorcycle engine to all electric cars so we can all hear them saving gas?

    Come on Think people!

  6. Scott says:

    Um… do you all know where electricity comes from?
    The majority comes from burning FOSSIL FUELS!!

    Do you know how bad for the environment those batteries are? VERY!! Dirtier than getting rid of a gas car and all the pollution it produces over it’s lifetime.

    So, Electric Cars are dirtier for the planet and continue to use fossil fuels. AND cost significantly more than a gas car. Begs the Question: WHY BOTHER??

  7. admin says:

    Um, Scott, did you know that many EVs are being charged with renewable power sources, like solar? Did you know that lithium batteries are recycled at the end of their lifetime (yes, the very same type of batteries you have in your computer and cell phone)? Maybe you can explain just how all the CO2 coming out of your tailpile is “recycled”, to support your theory that fossil-fuel burning cars are “cleaner.”

    Don’t know where you get your info on cost comparisons because EVs cost about the same as those with combustible fuel engines, and you get government incentives, AND you save a ton of money each year on fuel costs, which are only going to continue to rise in the future.

  8. Danial Cho says:

    It’s an ok idea I guess. Goss132 was working on adding some kind of resonating chamber around their electric motors so it would amplify some kind of low level hum.

    What good would that do though honestly; people would be just as startled when they thought the Star Ship Enterprise was rounding the corner.

    Got to admit though. The Goss132 EV isn’t bad looking.

  9. So, if the electric cars are so quiet, manufacturers may add to them an artificial sound of a normal car. Isn’t it?

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