Why is the NY Times so anti-electric cars? Are they funded by Oil Companies so that they don't go bankrupt and in exchange extend their anti-electric propaganda?
"Of course Tomas's scenario may never come to pass, since quiet electric cars pose a danger to blind pedestrians." Answer the question before shifting the subject to something completely different!


Heavy motorized vehicles traveling at a decent clip are still dangerous no matter how much noise they make.

rob u

One thing to note is that above a certain speed the dominant audible noise of a car comes from the tires. As a quick demo, put your car in neutral when you are travelling 35 mph or so (a gasoline motor idling is fairly quiet unless something is wrong). You still hear a lot of noise!

Avi Rappoport

I live on a busy street (best house at a price we could afford). After a while, you do get used to the sounds, just tune them out. But I'm sure that it's a strain on my system, and it would be nice to cut down on city noise in general.


Why not make the cars quiet, but offer blind people some other form of notification? Maybe they could wear a bracelet that vibrates when a car is near? I'm sure someone creative could some up with something.

Ben C

I think the problem of blind folks not hearing cars can be easily solved... create a transmitter of some sort for all cars that tells the blind person of the coming car... that way the rest of us can live in peace and quite, and the blind folks can hear the cars.


-- Bob
I'm pretty sure Steph is been sarcastic. Since the quite car blind people is the dumbest argument since... "we need drive bigger car because all the other cars are so frigging big". Both problems can be solved by drive a M1 Abrams.

Travis F.

As was mentioned, electric cars and vehicles make less noise, they aren't silent though.

As a resident of San Francisco, I live on a street that has relatively little traffic, but is on one of the electric bus routes. I can hear from my 4th floor apartment every time a bus goes by.

Electric motors are only more quite, the faster they are going or the harder they are working, the bigger the sound they will output just like internal combustion, it's just on a smaller scale.

Pedestrian safety act seems like a waste of money too... there has to be a better solution for the blind.


Most of the noise on busy streets comes from the tires contacting the pavement (at least at higher speeds). Furthermore, the loudest vehicles on the road are semis which are the least likely to go electric due to long-distance requirements.


silent cars are also more dangerous for people that can see- just ask the people that got struck by the Acela


I happen to be driving in an area where signs "DEAF CHILDREN" signs are posted. The normal response should be to slow down and look out for such children. One annoying driver honked his horn probably about ten times not realizing that it has no effect whatsoever. I heard that the quiet hybrids and electric cars are doing something to make them more audible. Another possible improvement is to make daytime driving lights more available (not mandatory, as it connotes big government dictating what needs to be done).


As someone who lives within line of sight of an urban interstate, I can attest: engine noise is a miniscule part of high speed road noise. It's all wind and wheel sound. Most car engines just aren't that loud. That's why the concern over quiet cars sneaking up on blind pedestrians is bunk: at low speeds, gas-powered cars are pretty quiet as it is, and at high speeds electrics produce air and wheel friction sounds. There's no danger zone.

No, the real benefit of electric cars to property values will be the removal of local air pollution sources. With the latest evidence suggesting particulates are a major factor in lung and circulatory diseases, a shift to electric cars will really goose real estate prices in dense cities. Reducing fumes and particulates in the air of Harlem and Long Beach would be a huge boon to those communities.


I asked my blind pedestrian friend what he thought, and he replied, "No, I don't see it happening."



It's not just the blind! When you take a walk, you can't always arrange for the cars to approach from the direction you're facing. I live on a small suburban street, and we have two systems for protecting pedestrians: pedestrians who hear/see cars and get out of the way; and drivers that don't just ram into people who aren't paying attention. I rely heavily on hearing cars, and so far it's worked very well, because we don't have that many hybrid or electric cars on the street yet, we have mostly considerate drivers, and I know where the most dangerous spots are. But at some point we will have many more electric/hybrid cars, and I hope we'll have a decent solution to this problem before then.


Congress is, as frequently the case, reality-challenged on this issue. Toyota's engineers set themselves the requirement that the Prius be as quiet as a Volkswagen Jetta.

They failed.


I can see the BQE from my apartment, and bigger even than tire noise is the sound of semi trucks bottoming out as they travel too-fast over the bumpy road leading to the interstate. And horns. New yorkers need to let go of the horn a bit more.

The tire noise is a lot, too.


I think the main problem with noise isn't when electric cars are traveling at normal speeds, its when electric cars are traveling at slow speeds. The tires don't make much noise and there is almost no sound from the engine. Personally I've had some hybrids sneak up on me in parking lots when they are only going 5-10 mph.

Dave Diamond

I predict we will have to make electric cars artificially noisy to prevent drivers from running into each other. So, no. :)


I walked around a big truck to cross the street and almost got killed by a pirus, I should have looked...

Othar Hugh Manati

Many good points brought up, but one I would add:

Semi trucks are unlikely to go electric anytime soon, so that the vehicles that by far make the most engine noise (especially if "engine braking") will continue to do so.

Also, there are other reasons living on a main road can be a liability that electric vehicles won't solve: regularly getting nearly rear-ended when you have turn into your driveway is one; the unbelievable quantity of garbage that people toss out their car windows is another.

(Yes, I lived on a main road before.)