30 August 2009

Big Ears?

I have been experimenting with a lot of different routes to commute to work. While I have managed to cut a couple miles from my trip, I have also gotten some evidence about how much quieter an electric car is.

Not that much from the outside at speed.

I often I take back roads to work through Bucks county in Pennsylvania. There are a fair number of people out walking their dogs, jogging, or just walking. And guess what?

They all hear me coming. Probably from just as far away as if I were in a piston powered car.

Don’t get me wrong, the Mini E is much quieter, especially on the inside, especially if the windows are closed, and especially when accelerating or when moving really slowly (which does not make much tire noise).

But a lot of modern cars are fairly quiet these days when cruising at light throttle. And tire noise at speed is not going to change much based on the motive power source. I suspect that people who are facing away from me are hearing my tire noise when they walk to the edge of the road long before I get close. These are not high speed roads, usually 35 to 40 mph. Maybe 45 tops, some 25.

And the Mini E is not completely quiet at very low speed either, there is a whirring sound when under power even at a fraction of one mile per hour. I suspect it might be the cooling fan, maybe someone more familiar with AC Propulsion’s system can comment. I wonder if this fan noise (or whatever it is) is audible to the average pedestrian. On the other hand, if you don’t touch the throttle, there is no whirring noise below one mph. Although the battery cooling fan always seems to run, though more quietly in the cooler weather now.

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