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With electric cars being fairly new to the mainstream automotive marketplace, it can be easy to be surprised when some components you are used to seeing on conventional gas-powered cars are missing. Here’s what you need to know about car exhaust systems and whether EVs have exhaust pipes.

What do exhaust pipes do?

A Lucid Air electric car is shown on a paved road from the rear view.
A Lucid Air electric car | Martyn Lucy via Getty Images

In a typical internal combustion engine, an exhaust system is a vital component of the drivetrain that allows waste gasses produced by the engine to leave the car. Through this system, a muffler is usually installed, which “muffles” the engine noise. Without an exhaust system, your car would not be able to run efficiently, effectively reuse or expel waste gasses, and it would sound very loud.

Do electric cars have exhaust pipes?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, no; solely battery-electric vehicles do not have any exhaust pipes because they do not produce waste gasses. In fact, when you see a newer car on the road and you are curious if it is an EV or gas vehicle, looking for an exhaust pipe in the back is a quick indicator of whether it is an EV or not.

Unlike full-fledged EVs, hybrid electric vehicles do have an exhaust pipe. Even though they have an electric drivetrain that does most of the work, the gas-powered engine that works in conjunction with the electric drivetrain needs an exhaust pipe to function.

Will EVs ever have exhaust pipes in the future?

With no byproducts produced in the form of gasses from EV drivetrains, there is no reason for EVs to have exhaust pipes. But what about in the future? Will we ever see sporty exhaust systems on any vehicles of the future? There is a possibility.

In fact, some designers in the automotive industry, like Porsche, are still integrating exhaust pipe-like components into the exterior design of their cars. Whether or not this is for accommodating actual exhaust systems is yet to be seen, but it shows that automotive designers are slow to move on from the intense design aesthetics that are evoked through an exhaust system.

Electric cars have exhaust sounds; why?

For many drivers, the biggest part of exhaust systems that are missed in EVs, apart from the design aesthetics, is the noise. The classic rumble of an American V8 engine, the intense sound produced by Italian V12 engines, and even the ripping sound of a turbo four-cylinder engine are all missed in the EV segment, and some automakers are looking to rectify this with sounds of their own.

BMW, for example, has partnered with famous movie music composer Hans Zimmer to produce an array of sounds that are to be played in BMW EVs that evoke the same emotional response as engine noise. Other companies like Dodge are aiming to bring their classic engine noises to their new lineup of electric muscle cars through speaker systems.


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