Wednesday, 3 November 2010


Audi says its e-tron electric car will get itself some artificial sounds. The reason? Well electric cars don’t make a sound, or don’t make enough of a sound as to be audible to outsiders. Such a fact has raised concern in some quarters about blind people for instance, who rely heavily on their hearing senses to stay safe when out walking in public roads.

"We speak of quiet cars when an electric car is driven at a speed between 0 – 25 km/h," explains Dr. Ralf Kunkel, Head of Acoustics at AUDI AG. He agrees that pedestrians are the ones mostly at risk and that they need to hear a car’s voice as it moves along. “One way do this is by generating artificial noise in electric cars."

This brings out infinite possibilities, with some suggesting that manufacturers of electric cars should also start investigations into developing some kind of electric sounds audible enough to outsiders, in the absence of petrol engines and tailpipes. Developers such as Yamaha – who have started with similar systems for petrol-powered supercars, will have a good head start.

"The obvious approach would be to work on the basis of the familiar sound of a combustion engine," says Christian Schüller, Head of Brand Development/Corporate Identity. "On the other hand, we want to underscore that an electric or hybrid Audi is an innovative product. We also want to make our Vorsprung durch Technik audible in the era of electric mobility."

The best news for ordinary folk is that you might be driving your little Audi A1 but be able to fit it with software that makes it sound like the R8 V10

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