There are a variety of factors that a consumer considers when purchasing a car. For some, overall cost of ownership is of utmost importance. For others, the features and technology can swing a decision. From make and model to electric or gas, customer satisfaction is based on an ever-expanding list of variables.
A relatively newer variable is a quiet interior, which is a trait that is now found in many of the car-buying guides you can find on the Internet. This falls into a greater category of overall driving comfort, which drivers appreciate for both a daily commute or a family road trip. So how are more and more automobile manufacturers tackling this consumer preference?
A Quieter Cabin Starts With Addressing NVH
In cars, one of the biggest contributors to NVH—aka Noise, Vibration, or Harshness—is engine vibration. Whether conscious or subconscious, drivers will base a decision on NVH because it significantly impacts the experience of driving, especially when you consider NVH comes in two forms: airborne and structural.
- Airborne NVH:
This type is heard at high frequencies typically in the range of 300 Hz or higher. Automobile engineers try to mitigate this by addressing the source or utilizing sound-damping technology where possible within the structure of the car. For example, lightweight, stiff structures can exhibit complex frequency-dependent motions that produce noise under dynamic load inputs. There are materials that can reduce dynamic mobility at minimum weight added.
- Structural NVH:
This type occurs at lower frequencies, and is felt, not heard. This can be diminished through the design of the vehicle, or by strategically placing vibration-canceling material within its structure. For instance, this material would be able to manage dynamic load inputs into sensitive equipment mounted to lightweight panels to ensure long-term performance.
While the engine is the major culprit of vibration, there are plenty of other reasons why noise and vibration enter the cabin, ranging from aerodynamic factors (like wind) to other mechanical issues (like brakes).
Reducing NVH Creates a Superior Driving Experience
Noise, obviously, can be deal-breaker for a car buyer. Whether it’s trying to talk to someone in the passenger’s seat, listening to music, or simply trying to enjoy some peace and quiet while on the road, a car with an interior that’s loud on the highway certainly does not make for an enjoyable driver experience.
Vibration also affects a driver’s overall comfort, since that energy is transmitted to their hands through the steering wheel, as well as through the seat, armrests or floorboard. This can lead to driver fatigue, especially on longer trips.
While comfort is an obvious way that NVH impacts a vehicle, it can also impact the overall durability as well; repetitive vibration over time can cause wear and tear, or damage attached materials or components. This ties into a car’s overall reliability and cost of ownership, which many car buyers seriously consider before making a purchase.
Meeting the Needs of Demanding Customers
Today’s auto manufacturers are faced with a tough task. Consumers demand lighter cars and trucks, all for the sake of smoother handing and improved fuel efficiency, but these drivers also demand a quieter cabin, which means reducing NVH. Luckily technology keeps improving, and there are more ways now than ever before to cancel vibration and noise in automobiles without sacrificing performance.