Are cars loosing their flavor with the introduction of electric motors? Where is that crazy exhaust note of the BMW E60 M5, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series, the growl of a Mustang Cobra, and that intoxicating sound of a modded VW R32? Real car enthusiasts are suckers for good sound. Growling BMW M engines to go silent one day with the introduction of more alternative energy to power our future icons.

As you sit at home, a car pulls up your driveway. Immediately you direct your attention to the engine noise coming out of the exhaust pipe. Instantly guessing the number of cylinders and the make of the car. For car nuts, that is a normal thing. What happens when a hybrid, plugin hybrid, or a full on electric vehicle (EV) slowly pulls up your driveway with a charged battery? Nothing, nada, zilch. You will not hear a thing. Unless your driveway is made out of wooden sticks that crack with every wheel rotation.

I can recall at least twice almost being run over by a Lexus RX400h SUV while trying to cross a parking lot. Strangely enough, they were both RX hybrids, even though there is no shortage of Pruises and Volts in my area. A new question arises, should car equip these cars with noises to move our senses at any speed. Instead, should they just stick to low-speed noises to protect pedestrians from accidentally walking into our vehicles path.

Thumbs up for safety. In the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) is working on standardizing artificial noises to help reduce pedestrian accidents resulting from quietness of these vehicles at lower speeds. Such systems are currently available on certain models. Karma, a full size luxury plugin hybrid from Fisker Automotive, headquartered in Irvine California, is extremely quiet while running on e-power alone. Engineers have mounted speakers at mid lower sections of the front and rear bumpers that emit a very unappealing noise at speeds lower than 25 MPH. This strange noise alerts pedestrians of the potential danger approaching.

Several automotive brands have a distinct engine sound that no one can replicate unless certain engine and exhaust components are reversed engineered down to a tee. EV technology should be welcomed into our world. After all, electric vehicles could be a blast to drive with the right setup. Take the popularity of electric indoor karting as evidence.

However, one day we might have to say goodbye to the distinct flat six engine sound in a Porsche Carrera GT3 and that unique boxer engine noise from the Subaru WRX STI. Not to mention the symphony a BMW inline six engine produces. A sound that I can pick up a mile away. How do you transfer that passion in the form of sound to an all-electric engine?

Ideally, our hope is for BMW to develop an electric motor with a distinct “whine”. Knowing BMW, they might just develop the best external system that emits the coolest combination of synthetic engine and exhaust note. After all, they are the first to introduce an internal pre-recorded engine sound track for enhancing the driving experience in the 560hp 4.4-liter twin turbo V8 F10 M5.

Let’s Say goodbye to uniqueness. At this rate, our future cars will sound as good as a pair of speakers, a good amplifier, and finely composed audio track.


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