Add noise to quiet cars? What’s the point?

Photo credit: Mike from Pexels

by David M. Sykes, Vice Chair, The Quiet Coalition

As Time Magazine notes, there’s frenzied excitement among electric vehicle manufacturers about branding their “signature sound.” Think Ford Mustang, Porsche, and don’t forget Harley Davidson motorcycles. Customers pay good money for that distinctive roar and even for the luxurious “ka-chunk” sound when you close the door of your Mercedes. Same goes for appliances like washing machines and dishwashers and blenders–their manufacturers want a distinctive sound. That’s what a signature sound is—something they can brand.

But as Time points out, with EVs the distinctive sound is a whole lot different than you’ll hear from the pedal-to-the-metal roar from a gas-hogging, tire-burning Mustang you remember. In fact, some would say ironically, quiet EVs are now required to emit a sound to warn people of their presence based on a law that was pushed through Congress by a society for blind Americans. That law has sadly unleashed creatives in the sound signature business.

How crazy can this get? Very crazy. Ford and others have already added choice menus to certain models so you can choose how loud and powerful you want your EV to sound—creating signature sounds that have nothing to do with what a vehicle actually sounds like. And Elon Musk, Tesla’s Big Chief, has apparently decided this whole thing is a joke. He’s equipped Teslas with the ability to make farting sounds. Really. He’s even included a few options.

So much for adding noise to EVs.

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