Will electric vehicles make our cities quieter?

"Noise News International" (NNI) - a much respected magazine in noise control circles worldwide - printed an article by us. In this article we write about the possible development of road noise emissions in inner-city areas due to the increasing electrification of the vehicle fleet. The basis for this article were several studies conducted by the Environmental Noise Team in Aarau and the Research & Development Team in Bern.

Will electric vehicles make our cities quieter?
Will electric vehicles make our cities quieter?
Will electric vehicles make our cities quieter?

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Below is the introduction and conclusion of the NNI article.


"E-mobility is gaining in importance worldwide. The European Parliament and the European Commission earlier this year formally approved a law to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel vehicles in the European Union from 2035  [1], [2]. Legislation such as this will further accelerate the shift to electric vehicles (EVs). While EVs are known to have numerous positive effects on the environment, little is known on the impact of EVs on road traffic noise emissions. EVs are generally considered to be quieter than vehicles with combustion engines, as they produce virtually no engine noise [3]. However, the total noise emissions of vehicles are not only due to the engine noise: Several studies show that for passenger cars, tyre/road noise dominates already at a speed of 15 to 30 km/h [4], [5] & [6]. The question arises among noise abatement officials and noise plagued residents regarding the expected impact of EVs on noise emissions from urban roads. Systematic comparisons between electric vehicles and combustion vehicles are hardly available to date. Therefore, we attempt here to make an initial assessment of the noise impact of EVs on urban roads based on a limited comparative study and tyre statistics."



"In this article, based on a limited comparative study, an attempt was made to estimate the influence of the rapidly advancing electrification of vehicles on noise emissions in urban areas. The good news for residents is that significantly lower noise emissions can be expected for the driving scenarios “acceleration” and “stop & go”, which are common on urban roads. Depending on the dominant driving behaviour on a road section and the road surface, noise reductions of 0 to a maximum of 5 dB can be expected. The more unsteady driving behaviour there is on a road section and the quieter the road surface, the greater the noise-reducing effect of electrification. The bad news, on the other hand, is that at constant driving speeds, no significant reduction in noise emissions was found for EVs at speeds between 20 and 60 km/h. If we assume that EVs tend to be equipped with wider tyres and higher load indexes due to their higher weight and torque, we even have to expect a slight increase in noise pollution on roads with constant driving speeds. It should be stated that only a very small sample of pairs of EVs and CVs could be studied. Further research is needed to reliably predict the change in noise emissions as a result of vehicle electrification. Moreover, in future studies, other vehicle types e.g. heavy trucks, the impact of AVAS, as well as the effect of EVs at the high speed road network should be investigated."