Electric and hybrid gas-electric cars emit very low sounds at low speeds because they don’t have internal combustion engines producing noise and vibrations. To ensure that pedestrians will hear electric and hybrid vehicles coming, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires these vehicles to emit sounds ranging from 43 to 64 decibels when they are moving at less than 18.6 mph. Each manufacturer uses its own warning sounds.
At high speeds, there may not be much difference between gas-powered cars and EVs or hybrids. That’s because other factors like tire and wind noise become louder as cars move faster.
Infrastructure also contributes to street noise. Cracks, depressions, and holes in roads can increase sound levels as cars travel across them.
Lower-income communities tend to have poorer-quality streets and highways. So failing to fix roads could drown out any improvements in a community’s soundscape from EVs, quite literally