Towards a methodology for assessing electric vehicle exterior sounds

Sneha Singh, Sarah R Payne, Paul Jennings

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    28 Citations (Scopus)
    163 Downloads (Pure)


    Laws mandate that electric vehicles emit sounds to ensure pedestrians’ safety by alerting pedestrians of the vehicles’ approach. Additionally, manufacturers want these sounds to promote positive impressions of the vehicle brand. A reliable and valid methodology is needed to evaluate electric vehicles’ exterior sounds. To help develop such a methodology, this paper examines automotive exterior sound evaluation methods in the context of experimental design and cognitive psychology. Currently such evaluations are usually conducted on-road or inside a laboratory, yet a virtual environment provides advantages of both these methods but none of their limitations. The stimuli selected for evaluations must satisfy legislative guidelines. Methods for presenting and measuring the stimuli can affect study outcomes. A methodology is proposed for conducting evaluations of an electric vehicle’s exterior sounds, testing its detectability and emotional evaluation. An experiment tested the methodology. Thirty-one participants evaluated an electric car in a virtual environment of a town’s T-junction with 15 exterior sounds as stimuli. The car’s arrival time, direction of approach and thus distance to pedestrian varied across conditions. Detection time of the sound, and pleasantness and powerfulness evaluations of the car were recorded. The vehicle’s arrival time and approach direction affected its detectability and emotional evaluation, thus these are important elements to vary and control in studies. Overall the proposed methodology increases the realistic context and experimental control than in existing listening evaluations. It benefits by combining two competing elements necessary for assessing electric vehicle exterior sounds, namely pedestrian safety and impressions of the vehicle brand.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1790-1800
    JournalIEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems
    Issue number4
    Early online date18 Jun 2014
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


    • Electric vehicle sounds
    • emotional evaluation
    • vehicle detection
    • virtual environments


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