Ask The Best And Brightest: Name Your EV "Exhaust" Tune

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

The rise of electric cars has pedestrian safety and hearing-impaired rights groups worried about the accident potential of near-silent electric cars. And so the race to aurally differentiate EVs is on. Heinrik Fisker tells the New York Times that his company’s Karma EV will sound like “a cross between a starship and a Formula One car,” thanks to bumper level speakers pumping out a Hollywood-developed “exhaust note.” Others suggest exhaust notes may be downloadable, like automotive ringtones. Until now, the sounds our cars make has been a function of the engine (with some customization possible via enormous exhausts). Being given the option of making our future electric vehicles sound like anything we want creates a world of options. How to decide?

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Mirko Reinhardt Mirko Reinhardt on Oct 16, 2009

    @bomberpete : On my honeymoon two years ago, my wife and I took a walk in Saratoga Springs State Park. We went back to the car, I started it, looked behind me, all was clear, then I backed up. Crunch! A Honda Civic Hybrid had whispered up behind me. If you back up without looking back, it's your fault if you crash into Civics. Civic hybrids can't move with the engine off, and there are lots of very quiet non-hybrids.

  • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Oct 16, 2009

    In the video posted, I heard mostly tire noise. It wasn't until the car was passing that I could even hear the silly bird noise. I like this idea: “This sound is mandated by the federal government!"

  • Nick Nick on Oct 18, 2009

    “Ride of the Valkyries.” +100. Now if someone can build be a replica 7.62mm Minigun to mount on stub wings, I am all set. Or 'Rumble' by Link Wray. Everyone would turn around expecting a lowered '49 Merc and be utterly baffled to see the Prius. Or a lion roaring. Or the horn from a locomotive.

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Oct 18, 2009

    This is a real problem. I often drive on a road near the Hudson river. This road is to the boat docks, and is also used by many walkers. If the wind is blowing towards me, anyone walking along the road cannot hear me. I've learned to open the windows and play some classical or mellow electronic music, or I can drive 2 mph for half a mile behind a walker. My Acura is very quiet. Honking the horn is considered rude, as the walker does not know I've been behind him or her for minutes already, and the walker thinks I'm pushy and about to run them over. Whatever sound is chosen must be universal and noticeable without being obnoxious. It should also be speed-dependent, as once you are over 20 mph, there is wind and tire noise. I second the Pac Man sound of eating the dots.....