Do you like the idea of going for a drive at night? Or for that matter, a getaway drive on weekends to unwind from the daily grind? If yes, that makes you a bonafide car lover. But more importantly, it also makes you someone who finds peace and calm in quieter, if not completely silent, surroundings. And justifiably so.
That is because ICE vehicles are the main source of noise pollution in India. Irony notwithstanding, many experts consider noise pollution is a silent killer and India, one of the noisiest countries in the world.
But with a vehicle penetration rate (no. of motor vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants) of just 25, India is bound to get noisier still if we continue to rely on ICE vehicles for transport. To understand the enormousness of the crisis, just imagine the din if India were to match the vehicle penetration rate of the USA (838) or even China (179)!
Enter Electric Vehicles
The conversation around electric vehicles like the MG ZS EV is usually hinged on how they have zero tail pipe emissions, which in the long run helps clean up the air and allows everyone to breathe better. But akin to the silent nature of its harmful effects, vehicular noise pollution gets lost in the crowd when talking about the benefits of electric vehicles.
Apart from honking, vehicular noise pollution is measured in two ways: vehicle pass-by noise and vehicle stationary noise. While incessant and loud honking is a mostly behavioural problem, the other two are not.
Pass-by noise refers to the noise - measured at a distance of 10 metres - from the vehicle’s engine, powertrain, exhaust system, tyres etc. when it is moving at 50kmph full throttle in either second or third gear. As per CMVR (Central Motor Vehicle Rules), vehicle pass-by noise has an upper limit of 80-91dB, depending upon the type of vehicle. Similarly, the proposed cut-off for a vehicle’s stationary noise in India is 3.9dB.
The MG ZS EV, for comparison, produces virtually zero pass-by noise. The only sounds you will hear when an MG ZS EV passes by you are from the tyres and the vehicle’s electric motor, both of which are way below the above-mentioned limits. And if you are sitting inside the MG ZS EV, both these negligible sounds are almost muted thanks to the excellent cabin insulation. As for stationary noise, the ZS EV can make a Himalayan Buddhist monastery seem like a Sunday farmer’s market!
How Noise Pollution Affects You
But to truly understand the benefit of having more EVs on the road, one first has to realize how noise pollution affects mental and physical health.
The CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) India has mandated day-time (6 AM to 10 PM) upper noise limits for industrial (75dB), commercial (65dB), residential (55dB), and silence (50dB) zones in the country. However, in many of Mumbai’s traffic-nodal areas, noise levels are between 85 to 90dB. And things are getting worse. According to the WHO (World Health Organisation), Mumbai’s average noise level is rising by 1.5dB per year. And you would be forgiven for thinking things are better in India’s smaller cities. After all, even a city like Mysuru with just over a million inhabitants has more than 7 lakh vehicles.
The romanticisation of India’s cacophony notwithstanding, prolonged exposure to 80dB and higher noise levels can lead to an irregular pulse rate, increased blood cholesterol, enlarged heart, irritability, mental fatigue, and precipitation of mental stress. Loud noise is also known to affect the heart rate of a pregnant woman’s foetus, disrupt sleep patterns, hamper communication, and impair the overall quality of life.
Are EVs a Sure Shot Solution for Noise Pollution?
Being relatively new, there haven’t been that many studies conducted on the efficacy of EVs when it comes to reducing environmental noise pollution. But the evidence for them being a reliable antidote to vehicular noise pollution is mounting by the day.
For instance, a UK study found that electric taxi drivers reported experiencing less stress because of how quieter their vehicles were compared to ICE taxis. Another study found that 70 per cent of motorists believed a quieter cabin would help reduce stress levels and improve their overall mood when driving.
With EVs, the Days of Range and Noise Anxieties Are Numbered
Electric vehicles like the MG ZS EV have already rendered concerns about range anxieties irrelevant. For instance, you can charge the ZS EV up to 80 per cent in less than an hour at 50kW DC fast-charging stations located at MG dealerships across India. The iconic British carmaker also offers customers a home/office 7.4kW AC wall-charger free of cost, which fully charges the MG ZS EV in just 6-8 hours. When you consider the ZS’s single-charge range of up to 340km and India’s rapidly-expanding public EV charging infrastructure, EV range anxiety is a non-issue.
A similar case can be made for the effectiveness of EVs when it comes to eliminating noise anxiety. After all, would you still need a night-time or weekend getaway drive to unwind if your daily commute itself offered near-meditative silence?