Shhh...It's electric: How EVs and fleet electrification reduce noise pollution

Nov 07, 2023 · 9 min read · blog

As cities grow increasingly populated and congested, noise pollution poses a significant yet often overlooked threat to public health and well-being. The sounds of traffic, construction, and other human activity can elevate stress levels by disrupting sleep and concentration. While policymakers work to develop regulations to reduce excessive noise, the transition to electric vehicles and fleet electrification offers a promising solution. By replacing gas-powered engines and their loud combustions with near-silent electric motors, EVs are poised to dramatically reshape the auditory landscapes of cities in a more peaceful direction.

The problem of noise pollution from gas and diesel vehicles

Noise pollution, often overlooked, is a form of pollution that significantly impacts the quality of life of people living in cities. The most prevalent source of noise in urban areas is road traffic, which includes noise from cars, motorcycles, buses, trucks, and construction vehicles. Internal combustion engines that power most gas and diesel vehicles generate high levels of noise pollution, and the loud noises from vehicle traffic and congestion negatively impact both human health and the environment. Prolonged exposure to elevated sound levels from vehicles can lead to hearing loss, high blood pressure, sleep disturbance, and increased stress levels in people.

In Europe, it's estimated that a minimum of one in every five individuals is regularly exposed to noise levels that can trigger significant health implications.

According to the European Environment Agency, data from the European Union shows that:

Nearly 95 million people in Europe deal with harmful noise from traffic. More than a fifth of city dwellers live with unhealthy noise levels. In some cities, it's even half. About 18 million people are seriously annoyed, and 5 million have their sleep disturbed by constant transport noise. Persistent transport noise is linked to about 11,000 early deaths and 40,000 new heart disease cases.

What is more, vehicle noise pollution disproportionately impacts disadvantaged communities located near highways and busy roadways. Marginalized groups are often subjected to the highest traffic noise levels due to historical inequities in urban planning.

And noise pollution doesn't just affect humans - it's detrimental to wildlife too. Animals both on land and in the sea suffer physical and behavioural changes due to noise-induced stress. For instance, road traffic noise makes it harder for frogs and songbirds to communicate, especially during the mating season. This can decrease their reproduction rates or cause them to abandon their habitats.

Policymakers have implemented vehicle noise standards and traffic management solutions to curb pollution. However, as the number of vehicles on roads continues to grow exponentially worldwide, mitigating noise impacts remains an ongoing challenge. The mass adoption of electric vehicles and fleet electrification offers a promising solution.

How electric vehicles virtually eliminate engine noise

Electric vehicles operate almost silently compared to gas-powered vehicles. By eliminating the internal combustion engine, EVs remove the primary source of vehicle noise pollution.

Traditional vehicles have internal combustion engines, which produce noise from several sources, including the engine, exhaust, and transmission. In contrast, EVs have no internal combustion engine with hundreds of moving parts; they use electric motors powered by rechargeable batteries, which do not require any form of combustion or engine noise. The only noticeable sounds from EVs are from the tires contacting the road, wind resistance, and auxiliary equipment like air conditioning compressors. At low speeds, EVs produce nearly no noise. Even at higher speeds, EVs generate significantly less noise than comparable gas-powered vehicles.

Benefits of reduced noise pollution

As we transition to quieter electric vehicles, the reduction in noise pollution can lead to a healthier and more peaceful urban living experience. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Improved sleep quality: One of the most immediate benefits is an improvement in sleep quality. Less noise at night means fewer disturbances, leading to better rest and improved overall health.
  • Lower stress levels: Constant noise can trigger the body's stress response. Reduced noise pollution can lead to lower stress levels, improving both physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Better concentration: In a quieter environment, both adults and children can focus better, whether it's at work, school, or during leisure activities.
  • Increased property value: Areas with lower noise pollution can potentially see an increase in property value, as they become more desirable places to live.
  • Enhanced wildlife habitats: Urban wildlife can also benefit from reduced noise pollution. Quieter cities can contribute to healthier and more diverse urban ecosystems.

Each of these points underscores the potential of electric vehicles in transforming our urban areas into more peaceful and healthier habitats - and the progress could be further enhanced by fleet electrification projects as well.

Reducing noise pollution in urban areas through fleet electrification

While consumers are still slowly adopting EVs for personal use, many experts predict accelerated growth in the EV market and fleet electrification in the coming decade. As EVs become more affordable and charging infrastructure expands, a mass transition to electric transportation could transform city life by reducing a major source of noise pollution. Several types of electric fleets are already making their mark in urban areas, and their number is bound to increase in the upcoming years thanks to new regulations and policies that aim to protect citizens' health and wellbeing.

  1. Public transportation systems, for instance, are transitioning from diesel-powered buses and trams to quieter, electric models, contributing not only to reduced noise, but also cleaner air.
  2. Delivery services, often operating in residential and commercial areas, are switching to electric vans and trucks, making their operations less intrusive.
  3. Ride-hailing and taxi services, frequently used in bustling city centers, are incorporating more electric cars into their fleets, helping to alleviate the cacophony of urban life.
  4. City-owned fleets aren't left behind in this transition either. From waste collection trucks to maintenance and law enforcement vehicles, many cities are adopting electric alternatives, significantly contributing to noise reduction.
  5. Corporate fleets are also joining the green revolution. Businesses are swapping company cars, whether for employee use, transporting goods, or client services, with electric models.
  6. And let's not forget the smaller players in this grand scheme: e-bikes and e-scooters. Part of many cities' shared mobility platforms, these virtually noiseless vehicles are adding to the quietening of our busy streets.

With every fleet that transitions to electric, we take a step closer to creating quieter, more peaceful urban environments with a higher quality of life for all - and the introduction of Ultra Low Emission Zones is another great example of this.

The role of Ultra Low Emission Zones in promoting electric vehicles and noise reduction

Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) are specific areas in a city where access is restricted for certain types of vehicles, typically those that emit high levels of pollutants. These zones play a crucial role in promoting the use of electric vehicles and reducing noise pollution in urban areas.

  • EV adoption: Firstly, ULEZ act as a strong incentive for individuals and businesses to adopt electric vehicles. Vehicles that do not meet the ULEZ emission standards are subject to a daily charge if they travel within the zone. As a result, electric vehicles, which produce zero tailpipe emissions, become an economically attractive alternative for people regularly commuting or operating within these zones.
  • Less vehicles: Secondly, the restrictions imposed by ULEZ encourage a decrease in the total number of vehicles within the zone, which inherently leads to less noise pollution. As more people switch to electric vehicles to avoid the ULEZ charges, the overall noise level within these zones is further reduced.
  • Alternative transportation: Lastly, ULEZs also encourage the use of other forms of low-emission transportation, such as cycling or walking, which further contributes to a quieter urban environment. By acting as both a deterrent and an incentive, ULEZs play a pivotal role in the move towards quieter, cleaner, and more sustainable urban living.

So the effect of ULEZ is twofold: a significant reduction in noise pollution, creating a calmer urban environment, and a decrease in air pollution, improving public health conditions. These zones, therefore, not only contribute to the physical wellbeing of residents but also improve the overall quality of urban life.


In the end, electric vehicles and fleet electrification are making a quiet revolution on our roads and in our cities. As gas-powered engines are replaced with electric motors, the familiar roar of traffic is slowly being replaced by a peaceful hum. This reduction in noise pollution has significant benefits for both human and environmental health. While the technology still needs to continue improving to match the range and recharging times of gas-powered cars, the progress being made gives hope that one day our cities and natural spaces will be freed from the constant din of internal combustion engines. The future, it seems, will be a quieter place.

Are you ready to discuss how Volteum can help electrify and optimize your fleet? Talk to our experts and try the world's leading electrification and EV fleet software today! ➡️