What do you want your car to sound like?

I loved this article on the BBC News website, which talks about how researchers at Warwick University are experimenting with adding sound to electric vehicles.

See, electric vehicles are quiet. If you’ve ever tried to reverse a Prius out of a supermarket car park space you’ll know that people have no idea you’re ready to go and tend to get a bit of a shock when you start rolling. But full-on EVs are quiet at much higher speeds too, which poses an even greater danger to children, visually impaired people, or animals. So the idea is to add a speaker unit to EVs and make them emit a sound that signals their presence.

The question is, what should that sound be? Should it sound like a normal car? A UFO? An emergency vehicle?

Personally, I’d opt for the sound of a TIE Fighter from Star Wars. The thought of driving around town sounding like I’m defending the Death Star is making me smile as I write this.

How about you? If you could choose a sound for your car what would you have? Or would you, in fact, go for silence? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

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  1. I think it’s a crazy idea to engineer unnecessary noise into a car. One of the joys of EV’s and Hybrids is the fact that they reduce noise pollution. Pedestrians just need to get used to looking and not relying on their ears!

    As an aside, I remember working on “Active sound” with a manufacturer a few years ago. Using the car’s stereo, you could cancel out almost all engine and road noise to make the car incredibly quiet inside. But the really interesting part was that you could also “Dial in” the sound you wanted the car to make. So your little four cylinder diesel could sound just like a full on V8 from the cabin!

    • On the whole I agree with you Mike, but I’ve often heard arguments that people with sight problems would be more at risk as they use their hearing more heavily. But yes, one of the joys of testing the Pruis was wafting through the streets on EV mode, putting the window down, and marvelling at just how quiet it all was.

      If legislation were introduced to require EVs to make a noise, I’d hope it could be switched off on motorways so there’s at least some occasion when you get to enjoy a quieter ride. I thought it was interesting too that the researcher in the BBC report said we should take this opportunity to reduce the amount of noise cars make.

      The Active Sound idea sounds amazing. Did it ever make it to production?

  2. I’d love to drive a car that sounded like an F1 car. That would be fantastic and I can imagine the shock on people’s faces when I roar past at 30mph!

  3. silence please….
    or a quiet cat like purrrrrrrr

    • That would be brilliant – certainly brings new meaning to a purring engine…

      • what I am really curious about is when the option gets sized up to mass transport vehicles eg HGV ~ EV HGV ~ what is the current progress in that direction?

        • I’m afraid I don’t know, but that’s an interesting question. I’ll have a poke around and see what I can find out.

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