One deft criticism of electric cars is that they lack ambient noise to warn others of their impending approach. This is especially worrisome for the blind or elderly, and even early hybrids like the Prius are criticized for being too quiet in a world weened on engine noises. Then there are those of us who demand a growling engine as part of the automotive experience.
But that may all change in the not too distant future, as hybrid or electric cars may come equipped with artificial engine noises. You may even be able to customize the tunes coming out of your automobile.
I long for the days when the only sound coming from cell phones was a ring. Hard to believe that was only a few years ago. Now just about any sound or song can come from a phone these days, and most of the time the low-quality tune is more aggravating than entertaining. Can you imagine the utter chaos of allowing unlimited audio options for electric cars?
Think about it. A Toyota Prius that sounds like a ’68 Cobra Jet Mustang with open headers. Or a Nissan LEAF blasting Soulja Boy songs on a constant loop. Some cars like the Fisker Karma already have built-in tones, with speakers in the bumpers to emanate noise and warn off pedestrians. It only took a few weeks to hack the iPhone, I imagine today’s geeks wouldn’t have too much trouble hacking car speakers and inserting their own tunes.
Now, adding car noises is nothing new. There are in fact numerous variations for producing alternative vehicular sounds. Some are simple, like the TurboWhistler, which plugs into your exhaust and makes it sound as though you have a turbocharger on your car. Other systems, like In.Pro’s Virtual Motor system, actually pump out revs through the sound system (though not outside the car) and can make a Civic sound like a prancing stallion.
Likely, you will have choices from the factory, but everybody demands customization these days. How far will we go? Where are the limits? Will this be cool, annoying, or somewhere in between? What do you think?