Should electric cars make more noise?

Interesting, News | December 23rd, 2017 by 31
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One of the biggest complaints about electric cars from enthusiasts is their lack of noise. Compared to the sound of an internal combustion engine working, …

One of the biggest complaints about electric cars from enthusiasts is their lack of noise. Compared to the sound of an internal combustion engine working, an electric car is flat-out uninspiring. Especially when trying to drive quickly. While the performance of many electric cars can be thrilling, they still lack emotion and, no matter how fast, there’s no comparison to the feeling of hearing a screaming engine responding to your right foot.

So some car companies are looking to replace the silence, or slight electric motor whir, with a different noise. Such a noise would supposedly help two-fold, as it will supposedly make the car more exciting while also allowing pedestrians to hear it coming.

But is that really a good idea? Should electric cars make noise if it’s an artificial noise? I remember the movie “The Dilemma”, with Vince Vaughn and Winona Ryder, and in it, Vaughn co-owns a company that creates artificial engine noise in electric cars. While I like the movie, I always thought that idea was stupid. If us enthusiasts hate when BMW pumps a bit of artificial noise enhancements through the speakers, won’t enthusiasts really hate completely fake engine noise in a car that doesn’t even have an engine?

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One such car company that’s debating on an electric car noise is Mercedes-AMG. So much so, in fact, that AMG is working with Linkin Park to develop a noise for AMG’s future electric cars. Admittedly, Mercedes-AMG CEO Tobias Moers has stated that the brand isn’t sure which route to go with EV noise, whether or not it should be engine noise or some sort of electric noise.

Nissan is also working on what it calls the “Sounds of the Future” for electric cars. Basically, it just makes its electric cars ‘beep, boop’ as they go down the street and it sounds ridiculous.

I always felt that it would be cool if electric cars were just a bit louder, meaning the electric motor whir was louder and more aggressive, whether it was artificially enhanced or not. That would make it sound faster and more exciting while also sounding like what it is. But to create an entirely different noise altogether? That just seems a bit…cheesy, doesn’t it?

[Source: Jalopnik]

31 responses to “Should electric cars make more noise?”

  1. CDspeed says:

    Most enthusiasts saying electric cars are boring because they don’t make noise are trying to find something negative to say about electric cars. It’s the same for people who claim electric cars making noise is safer for pedestrians, as if people haven’t been getting hit by cars for decades. I know some one who was hit by a pickup truck crossing the street, he was left with brain damage. If the sound of an approaching V8 pickup goes unnoticed so could an artificial sound. Having an electric car make sound is really for low speed situations anyway, a car moving over 19 MPH generates enough tire, and wind noise to be heard.

    • I’ll edit and change what I said, as boring doesn’t convey my point, so that’s on me. But it’s not that EVs are boring due to the lack of noise but that they feel lifeless. I don’t care how fast they can be, there’s nothing like hearing the sound of a screaming engine being connected to your right foot.

      Ok your point of the FE cars and their noise, I agree with you. I went to a FE race and was allowed track access and the noise they make as they scream past is awesome, actually. So if automakers can just increase the actual EV motor noise, it would be a lot better than any artificial noise generated by speakers.

      • CDspeed says:

        I don’t mind that you said boring I’ve heard it before. I was saying enthusiasts say that as kind of way to blow off electric cars. I’ve been a car enthusiast for a long time so I do love the sound of certain high performance cars, and race cars. With electric road cars I know they don’t make much sound, so I don’t expect it, and I can’t say I miss the sound because it wasn’t there in the first place. To me a car taking off silently is impressive because it seems like it’s achieving power effortlessly. Like accelerating hard in a Rolls Royce, it doesn’t roar it’s just gone.

        • Central Lifestyle says:

          Thanks for sharing that video. The electric doesn’t sound bad for a start. One can imagine car makers creating signature sounds, especially for their performance/powerful models. Only thing is, I don’t like Audis so I’m kinda ticked off they’re the ones making a visible move. That being said, these electric sounds could bring some emotion to driving an electric car and give an edge to the big German car makers over Tesla

          • CDspeed says:

            It won’t bring much emotion, the artificial sounds are intended to make a car audible at low speeds, and would cut off around 19 MPH. So if your in a parking lot people will hear you, but it’s not intended to be heard in the cabin. So your not going to hear any futuristic sound when you plant your foot on the accelerator. Unless they do what BMW is already doing to their current cars, even M cars. They added artificial engine noise through the audio system, it caused a bit of controversy when they debuted artificial sound on the previous generation M5.

      • disqus_DHUVPcDkKY says:

        Pretty sure the last thing this world needs is more noise.

      • Hinu says:

        If you have heard the sound the BMW i3 makes, I think you’ll agree that it does create a sense of power and a furious engine. Compare it to a Formula 1 car which sounds reminiscent of a motor. An EV can still be thrilling. Just a lot quieter, but the sound is cool, genuine and authentic.

        I used to worry about this too (not having engine noise in performance cars), but I’ve lived with an EV for some time now, the BMW i3, and have driven many other ones too. I don’t think you need this very loud sound. It takes some getting used to. I’d claim that it’s not so much that you lose something that it is simply getting something different. Different isn’t necessarily worse.

        Artificial sounds will always sound crap and you know it’s like a kid’s toy because it has no connection the actual powertrain and the power being produced. It’s such a huge turn off.

        • CDspeed says:

          I have had my i3 for three plus years I do like the sound, the sound of my duel motor Tesla Model X is great too. But particularly in my i3 I like putting the windows down, and hearing that high revving jet like sound occasionally. I don’t want cars to make artificial sound either, it’s law makers who don’t understand electric cars that are pushing for low speed sound to be made. They claim it’s for pedestrian safety, but sound isn’t the problem when people are hit by cars.

    • Hinu says:

      That’s rubbish. Throw that sound engineer down the well and remove that job position! The engineers making the motors are the ones responsible for the sound characteristics. Motor and engine sound is a product of the power being created. Don’t turn cars into toys for 3-year-olds!

  2. CDspeed says:

    Here’s a bit of real sound from an electric FE car.

  3. Chris Llana says:

    When you talk about “enthusiasts,” it’s clear you are talking about petrolhead “enthusiasts,” and those people almost certainly would rather drive loud gassers. Is the purpose of the noise to make the driver feel powerful? To control the roar is to be the lion?

    EV enthusiasts (for the very most part) LIKE the quiet performance. There’s nothing quite like the rush of being catapulted off a carrier deck by a very big rubber band. Immense torque, no fuss. Walk quietly but carry a big stick. Self-confidence is to know your strength without having to advertise it.

    • That’s true, there’s a difference between the two enthusiasts. Though, I’d argue that the feeling of hearing the spine-tingling noise of a Porsche flat-six or Ferrari flat-plane crank V12, being controlled by your own right foot, is a far more enjoyable experience.

      I will admit that electric cars can be exciting. I mentioned in another comment about Formula E being great and he noise if the electric racers was part of it.

      • Chris Llana says:

        Whether a given noise is enjoyable or obnoxious is subjective, and not something that can be argued — it’s a personal preference (like music), developed as an association with experiences (good and bad), and with what you have become accustomed to. It also changes over time. I used to have a Norton Commando 750 (from circa 1970) — I liked its sound (probably the loudest of my six motorcycles). Now when loud motorcycles roar past my house, I wish they were riding Zeros. Tomorrow’s children (raised with EVs) will likely grimace when they hear a loud combustion car go by.

        It’s similar to the preference for shifting gears or not. If you learned to drive in an EV, shifting gears manually (or even having the car do it for you) would seem positively archaic and off-putting.

      • disqus_DHUVPcDkKY says:

        Porsche + Ferrari do not represent the EV volume needed to affect change. They can fill the air with noise while BEV cleans it.

  4. Chris Llana says:

    The sound of an EV racing up Pike’s Peak. His car can do 0-60 in 2 seconds. No emotion?

  5. Chris Llana says:

    NIO EP9 EV does Nurbürgring. Drive that fast and you’re going to feel something in your gut.

  6. Fritz says:

    The BMW Hydrogen ‘H2R’ had a pretty nice noise. (But that’s not hard with a V12)

  7. Pictor says:

    Please, please, please stop with the fake noise. Yes, the sound of a well tuned engine and exhaust note is amazing to hear while driving. But nothing is more annoying than synthetic engine/exhaust sound running through your speakers. I’m a petrol head but would rather hear the silent whirr of an electric car than needless fake sound.

  8. Noise Pollution Reduction says:

    Dumb dumb dumb… of the intangible sustainable, societal and cultural contributionsof electric vehicles is their reduction of noise pollution! My Checy Volt is a blast to drive….so much so that the state patrol had to pull me over to alert me just how much fun is too much fun.

  9. jason bourne says:

    Electric cars should look better.

  10. expat says:

    First of all, the e-cars should make a noise on the outside, so not so careful pedestrians avoid being run over!

    • CDspeed says:

      Yeah because no car with an ICE ever hit a pedestrian because it makes noise 🤨…

    • Fritz says:

      I disagree. There’s usually somebody at fault when an accident occurs. I don’t think noise has anything to do with it.

    • Tommolog says:

      It’s not pedestrian’s responsibility to jump out of the way of a car roaring towards them. It’s the driver’s responsibility not to run over pedestrians! Do people jump out of your path as you drive down the road because they heard your loud car coming? Of course not – unless you are a terribly unsafe driver. I’ve been driving electric since 2009 and haven’t ever even had a close call with regard to hitting a pedestrian.

      The one thing that I would support is a slight beep while backing up, for parking lots where there is a lot of pedestrian traffic and they often just appear while walking behind the car next to you. But I’d support the backup beep for all cars, not just electric ones. As for artificial noise to make the driving experience more enjoyable or exhilarating, that’s just silly. EVs are just as enjoyable to drive as loud ICE vehicles. I think people will miss shifting gears more than than will the roar of the engine, and manual transmissions are going the way of the Dodo with or without the proliferation of electric drive.

      • Fritz says:

        Not a bad idea

      • disqus_DHUVPcDkKY says:

        I live in a city of 7 million, jaywalkers are hit every day based on their delusion of “right of way” – they will step off a curb without even looking, while wearing headphones. 15 pedestrians can be hit during ONE rush hour, drivers cannot stop on the proverbial dime. I have watched a mother push her baby stroller into an intersection on one of our busiest street with her head down reading her device. Silent cars are not the problem.

  11. Giom says:

    I don’t ‘get’ why this is even debated at car companies. Roughly up to the 70s, cars driving slowly through, say a parking lot, were heard by their engine noise (even idling was audible). Then, over a long period, cars became quieter up to a point where most cars’ engines are inaudible at slow speed.

    Unfortunately, these days, everything has to be debated and bemoaned.

    People seem unable to adapt to new things. Imagine the jump from horse carriages to modern cars happened in one year. Today, people would get a fit – unsafe, noise, pollution etc… this attitude is holding back progress. People are naturally very adaptive… they just need time.

  12. Hinu says:

    It’s bullshit. Stop it.

    The pedestrian thing people are talking about, it’s silly. New cars have sensors all around and will stop for pedestrians. Older cars don’t and many of them are quiet. Also, this is not an EV thing, other cars are also quiet. It creates a false sense of safety because many cars will roll around with no sound and those are the ones being the danger because they won’t stop automatically. Then there’s the fact that it incredibly rare for accidents like that to happen. It’s even rare for people to be blind. Alternatively, they could mandate that the car comes with some sort of safety feature like pedestrian warning or automatic braking – which is a much better initiative. The majority of drivers the majority of the time will drive around completely fine.

    Now, over to artificial sounds. It ruin cars. This is not some toy for a 3 year old. I hate it when they push fake sounds out of the audio system, EVs doesn’t have to become like that too.

    Teslas and the BMW i3 has a pretty cool engine whine already. Go with that. Other than that, the lack of noise is one of the great things about EVs. That’s coming from a “petrolhead” that love engine noises and old school racing and cars in general!

    Artificial sounds are the worst, don’t let the mainstream ruin cars now. They ruin everything else. Most people don’t care about cars, they just want one to go from A to B. They shouldn’t even be asked. It’s like Gordon Ramsey asking some random twat on the street how to make food in his restaurant.

  13. Scott Campbell says:

    I enjoy the peace and quiet of my Model X. With all the loud motorcycles and other vehicles around me, I will take the quiet!

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