Vehicles | January 14, 2021 1:04 pm

Please Stop Overreacting About the Sound of Amazon’s Electric Delivery Vans

Is it annoying or futuristic? Or just another thing for people to complain about online?

Amazon electric delivery vans from Rivian
A video on YouTube shows Amazon's new electric delivery van in action.
Amazon

Loud! Irritating! Terrible! Ungodly! 

These are all adjectives used by various scandalized outlets to describe the sound produced by Amazon’s new electric delivery vans. The EVs in question are produced by Rivian, an up-and-coming electric vehicle company, and while they haven’t made their official debut yet, the YouTube account Drive Tesla Canada posted a video of one testing in the wild.

Go ahead, listen to it for yourself.

Yes, that’s the van making that noise. Is it different from your traditional gas-powered car? Of course it is. But across the board, automotive blogs and other quick-take websites seem to have agreed that the appropriate response to this new sound is clickbait outrage. I’m not linking to them because they are, obviously, wrong. 

A quick reminder for those who don’t read about electric vehicles regularly: because of their mechanics, EVs are quiet — really quiet. Quiet enough that U.S. law now requires that electric cars emit artificial sound when traveling below 18.6 mph so that pedestrians who may not otherwise hear them coming can be alerted to their presence. That’s right, this sound is actually a product of safety laws. 

Plus, as Motor Trend writes (one of the few outlets that mercifully doesn’t feign disgust at the sound), Amazon confirmed to them that this isn’t the finished product and that it’s still in the “early testing” phase. So that tone may get dialed back by the time Jeff Bezos gets his hands on the 100,000 delivery vans they’ve ordered from Rivian.

But really, even if it doesn’t, is this galactic whirr, this UFO landing sound, worse than the roar of any overbuilt, supercharged gas engine? Worse than the hordes of meatheads cruising around town without mufflers? Worse than the back-up alarm of the current Amazon delivery vans? Not even close.

I know it’s a brave new world out there, but please try not to overreact. 

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