One of the most beautiful promise of the electric car, EV and other plug-in hybrids, PHEV is that they are silent. Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, noise is not a problem but in a congested city, silence is dearly sought after. I’m a car guy, like most of you. It took a lot of convincing before I actually tried an electric car. I preferred the noise, the smell and of course, the vibration of my Alfa Romeos. But what I discovered with electric cars was subtlety and power.
The Zen Of EVs. What I discovered is something hard to explain unless you experienced it, silently cruising in a car that has a lot of power. It’s a myth, an oxymoron but drive a Tesla Roadster and you will know what I’m talking about. What I felt in the Roadster was that my two hands were undisturbed from gear selection as I threw the Tesla in corners. My attention wasn’t robbed by other factors such as engine noise, gear selection or even braking. The car let off when I decelerated, perfect for corner entrance negotiated too fast. It was a Zen-like feeling driving in silence and feeling the incredible amount of power under my right foot.
Should EVs and PHEVs Make Noise? To this question, many have voiced their opinion but common sense and a general view of driving and the automobive world should clarify a few things. After writing my previous article; Cars Without Keys: Fobs And Fads, that basically asks, what are the consequences of being so automated, the next logical question is to ask if cars should make noise to inform absent-minded folks they are near multi-ton vehicles.
But What About The Disabled? It might come as a shock but the disabled pay more attention than your regular pedestrian. After all, it’s a question of life and death for them. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider a warning system specifically for them. So all of this begs another question, do we need to educate electric vehicle drivers or pedestrians?
How about both? In a world increasingly depending on automated tasks, we tend to become a little lazy and forgetful. From plug-in hybrid users forgetting to turn off their cars, to people texting, nose deep on phones oblivious to cars around them, it’s obvious we are spatially challenged. As Paul Scott from Plug In America once told me, all you need to do is be careful, have a pre-recorded message on your car warning a car is near you and I would add, pedestrian education.
No, electric cars don’t need to add noise to their silence. We just need to all be a little more careful near cars, instead of making electric and plug-in noisy.