Most passengers like to hum along with the radio on a highway drive. As long as the car isn't humming too.
There are few things more annoying than a high-pitched squeak while driving. As car engines become quieter — with electric vehicle (EV) engines basically silent — those little hums and whistles from the wind and road become more noticeable.
"Today people want to be able to converse within the vehicle, talk on their phone, get their messages and not deal with the road noise associated with that," said Carla Bailo, CEO of the Center for Automotive Research. "It will continue to increase drastically. And then when you talk about EVs, when you get rid of the sound source [from the engine], all the other noise becomes apparent. Silence is going to become one of the most important things."
One company's problem is another's opportunity. And the solutions required to eliminate cabin noise — specifically seals — fall right in the wheelhouse of rubber and plastic product manufacturers.
They're ready for the challenge.
"When the engine becomes quieter by going electric, so many other sounds that we don't even notice because of the regular engine noise become more apparent," Orotex President Ken Miura said through a translator. "We will be able to help. I am certain that our product needs won't be disappearing."
Chris Couch, vice president of innovation and product groups at Cooper Standard Automotive Inc., said data from its customers indicates that, after the engine, the largest contributor to cabin noise is wind noise through the window and glass-run system.