Drivers feel less stressed in an electric van, says study

The quieter cabin of an electric van is one of the reasons why drivers feel less stressed compared with a traditional internal combustion engine vehicle, according to a new survey.

Fiat Professional commissioned the Van Delivery Stress Test to gain a better understanding of the impact different levels of cabin noise have on drivers.

Carried out in partnership with leading psychoacoustician Dr Duncan Williams, the study discovered that drivers produced lower levels of sweat and also had a lower heart rate and lower body temperature when driving an electric van compared with one powered by a diesel engine.

Fiat electric van research
Participants have their reactions monitored

Drivers also reported lower levels of stress when answering a Perceived Stress Questionnaire after driving the electric Fiat E-Ducato. They commented that the electric van’s ‘very low in-cabin noise levels’ was particularly noticeable.

Acoustically, the diesel-powered Ducato was 10 decibels louder than the electric version – nearly four times as loud – which is the difference between someone talking from one metre away versus shouting from the same distance.

Dr Duncan Williams, Psychoacoustician, said: “We already know that noise on the roads is a real problem for people who aren’t part of the traffic but finding out how drivers respond behind the wheel is still very new territory

“The results clearly show, especially the readings from the smart watch, a strong correlation between the quietness of the E-Ducato and lower levels of stress in comparison to an ICE van.”

Fiat electric van research
The results are monitored and collected

Participants completed a 20-minute route in London in both the E-Ducato and diesel version. The route was also designed to ensure that it met the everyday demands of courier drivers and, as a result, included three drop-off locations in an agreed time period. To ensure it matched the real world, drivers were also penalised for not completing the require route or drop-offs in the target time.

Biometric results were taken during the trial via a wearable device called an Empatica E4. With this, data such as skin temperature and levels of sweat – as well as heart rate – could be monitored during the route.