Electric vehicles are just shy of being silent which, in a noise-rich urban setting, can be major pedestrian hazard.
Bicycles are also silent, but the chance of injury or death due to bicycle impact are just shy of 0%, on account of the fact that they don’t weigh much more than the rider. Electric vehicles, just like conventional vehicles, will put you in intensive care if you aren’t paying attention. Pedestrians have had it easy for a long time, with loud internal combustion engines alerting us to the presence of these rolling brick walls, but electric vehicles are giving legislators something to think about when it comes to the ambiance surrounding these new vehicles.
Because electric vehicles are so quiet, some countries are enacting laws requiring they make some sort of warning sound. Of course, this doesn’t mean some obnoxious beeping, but something that mimics the sound of an approaching futuristic car and, if any vehicle is futuristic, it would be electric vehicles. Daimler, for example, has about 250 people working in its powertrain acoustics department who, for the most part, deal with tuning intake and exhaust systems to make a V8 sound like a V8. Lately, they have been working on making electric vehicles sound like electric vehicles. Here’s the results, three different tones, available for the Renault ZOE, in the UK…
Balancing the appeal of electric vehicles, as well as the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, is the job of these acoustics engineers. Coming up with a sound that resonates with drivers, signifies electric vehicle, and keeps people safe is a difficult job, to be sure, but the results are turning out very interesting. Personally, I would love to hack the acoustics system and install the Main Viewing Screen sound effect from the Star Trek Original Series. However, it would probably have very limited appeal to most people considering an electric vehicle purchase.
Image © Renault