Sunday, December 24, 2017

Electric cars don't need artificial noise pollution

Having just read an article on the need for electric cars to make more noise, I must admit to being somewhat perplexed. The article begins: "One of the biggest complaints about electric cars from enthusiasts is their lack of noise. Compared to the sound of an internal combustion engine working, an electric car is flat-out uninspiring." It gets worse after that...
Granted, the article was a BMW blog, but the underlying assumption was quite clearly that electric cars should make some kind of an aggressive car-like noise for two main reasons: one, to warn pedestrians that there is a car in the vicinity, and two, because that's what cars do, and because drivers of expensive, fast cars want the gratification of a loud, macho driving experience to go with their over-inflated egos.
The first contention is the more easily justified, and has been a concern of electric car makers since the first electric cars in the early twentieth century. But I still maintain it is a misplaced concern: pedestrians need to learn to deal with the new Zeitgeist by not wandering across busy roads, crossing at appropriate places, and not using roads while distracted by phones or anything else; car drivers, for their part, need to pay more attention to possibly distracted pedestians, while remaining undistracted themselves. Treating the symptoms with an artificial car noise is missing the point - some serious traffic education needs to take place on both sides.
As for the proposition that electric cars should sound like gas-powered cars because some drivers think that it's cool to hear the roar of a well-tuned engine? This argument is indefensible, and people who think like that don't deserve to drive a nice powerful electric car. The reduction in noise pollution in our towns and cities is just one of the benefits of electric car technology, and to deliberately pollute for no compelling reason is just perverse. These people just need to get over themselves.

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