Audi is developing an engine note for its e-tron electric cars and is drawing inspiration from science fiction films.
Electric vehicles make virtually no sound at speeds of up to 15mph and car manufacturers are developing a distinctive sound to alert other road users to their presence. Some manufacturers have suggested going with an industry unified sound for electric cars.
Audi engineers have taken inspiration from its Audi RSQ electric coupe which was featured in the film I, Robot.
Dr. Ralf Kunkel, head of acoustics at Audi said: “We speak of quiet cars when an electric car is driven at a speed between 0 –15mph. Noise from the rolling of the tyres and from the slipstream comes to the fore above this speed, at which point an electric car is no longer significantly more quiet than a conventional vehicle.
“The fact that this new form of transportation is particularly quiet is, of course, another factor of its success, as environmentally-friendly cars should not only reduce emissions, but also noise pollution. However, speed without the typical road noises that serve as a signal carries risks. The sense of hearing allows other road-users in traffic to monitor all 360 degrees of their surroundings, whereas their eyes only cover a limited angle. People with poorer vision or who are distracted can easily overlook a car.”
Audi’s head of brand and corporate identity Christian Schuller said the obvious approach would be to base the sound of an electric car on the combustion engine.
He said: “However, we want to underscore that an electric or hybrid Audi is an innovative product.
“The sounds used for space ships in films are reminiscent of car sounds, yet are also very different, making this a rather interesting approach.
“The sound will be new and unusual. The Audi RSQ from the 2004 Hollywood film ‘I, Robot’, starring Will Smith, gives an indication of how an Audi might sound in the future.”