Sound quality (SQ) plays important role in automobile competitiveness, in which the high frequency characteristics of tones are prominent when internal combustion engines are replaced by fuel cells or batteries. Hence, it is of great significance to explore the influence of tones on the SQ of such electric vehicles. At the moment, the prominence of tones is concerned but the influence of tones in different frequency ranges is not comprehensively considered. Meanwhile, there are some researches on the masking effect of background noise, but they are insufficient. To address these issues, the SQs of four types of vehicles (van, SUV, pure electric car, fuel cell heavy truck) are studied. The prominence ratio (PR) is found to be effective in the evaluation of tones SQ. The influence of tones on subjective evaluation is explored from two dimensions of “audible” and “irritable”. The results show that whether tones can be “audible” and “irritable” are related to the masking effect of background noise and the frequency distribution. Meanwhile, the PR limits of tones are obtained in different frequencies under various working conditions and operating modes.

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