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Sound characteristics of electric cars - perception and impact

: Hawighorst, Maren; Teller, Pascal

Forschungsinstitut für Kraftfahrwesen und Fahrzeugmotoren, Stuttgart:
12th Stuttgart International Symposium Automotive and Engine Technology 2012. Proceedings. CD-ROM : 13 and 14 March 2012, Stuttgart, Germany
Wiesbaden: ATZlive, 2012
pp.133-145 (Vol.2)
Stuttgart International Symposium "Automotive and engine Technology" <12, 2012, Stuttgart>
Conference Paper
Fraunhofer IBP ()

The German government announced the ambitious goal of adding around one million electric cars onto the roads by 2020. Another 5 million shall follow by 2013. Thus the quota of electric cars on the streets is supposed to rise up from almost 0 % to roughly 10 % within 20 years. The expected environmental impact is focused on reduced emissions including traffic noise. However, it will not be enough just to get things started. It will also be necessary to create acceptance within and to prepare society for the change in our daily habits that will necessarly come along with this new technology.
One issue to deal with is the fact that electric cars will add to and maybe severely change the soundscape we are used to both inside and outside the vehicle. Sound characteristics of electric cars differ a lot from those of vehicles with internal combustion engine. This may impact on pedestrian and bicycle saftey as well as on expectations of drivers and passengers. It is known, that the acoustic behaviour is one of the car attributes which are directly perceived by customers, only surpassed by the visual and haptic characteristics. Electric vehicles are commonly described as quiet or even silent, thus the challenge may be to shape a sound of silence that will fit to our needs and expectations.
The paper will address issues of noise and sound quality assessment under special consideration of electric vehicles. Additionally the advantages and disadvantages of sound quality engineering in the field or in the laboratory will be contrasted. It will also be outlined how to deal with electric cars in noise mapping.