Electric Cars to Get Supercar Sounds


Are you a petrohead with a conscience? Someone who likes the thought of owning an electric car but put off by the weedy sound of today’s offerings?

Well, for those of you who want to blend eco-cred with the engine roar of a Lamborghini, the wait may be finally over. New technology developed by Lotus and hi-fi whizz Harman Kardon will enable drivers of hybrid and electric cars to select the engine noise of their choice – from a beefy V8 to the swoosh! of the Enterprise at warp speed.

The new gadget, known as Electronic Sound Synthesis (ESS), digests road speed data direct from a car’s ECU and converts it into an engine note before pumping it through speakers positioned in the cabin and wheelarches.

Since this is a ‘live’ system, which reacts to driver inputs instead of relying on pre-recorded sounds, users can play around with it to achieve several different effects.

Speaking about the technology, Lotus engineer Andy Mackay told Auto Express, “ESS has mainly been developed to improve safety, especially for groups such as the blind, who cannot see cars approaching.

“Yet there are also opportunities to improve the feel of driving an electric model. Giving it a traditional exhaust sound is simple and effective, but we can do a lot more.”

In an effort to counteract the sound effects of making vehicles lighter, the team could soon apply the technology to gasoline motors as well.

The first cars to get the technology will apparently appear in the UK ‘very soon.’

I’m in two minds about this technology. For those of us (like me) who live in noisy cities, the thought of a quieter electric future seems quite appealing. On the other hand though, for those of us who wouldn’t consider a zero-emission car purely because of aesthetic qualities like the engine sound, innovative technology like this can only help to increase uptake.

Image Credit – Auto Express

Andrew Williams

is a writer and freelance journalist specialising in sustainability and green issues. He lives in Cardiff, Wales.