Audi acousticians working on giving e-tron sound at lower speeds

Sound of Silence - Audi e-tron Soundcheck

Electric cars certainly have their benefit, but that is not to say that they are without drawback. The major issue – and one that has been identified and addressed by blind advocacy groups worldwide – is that of the very low to virtually no sound generated by these vehicles at lower speeds. Under 15 mph, electric cars are virtually soundless. Even at higher speeds, its is the sounds created by air displacement and moving tires that create noise, and not the actual engine.

“We speak of quiet cars when an electric car is driven at a speed between 0 ““ 25 km/h (15.53 mph),” explains Dr. Ralf Kunkel, Head of Acoustics at Audi AG. Up to this speed electric cars are virtually silent as they glide through the streets. Noise from the rolling of the tires and from the slipstream comes to the forefront above this speed, at which point an electric car is no longer significantly more quiet than a conventional vehicle.

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This issue has been a point of concern among blind advocacy groups, who say that the lack of sound makes the vehicles difficult to impossible for a blind person to detect coming.

Audi, getting ready to enter the electric car market, is working on a solution to that problem that it will implement in its e-tron electric car. Ever the engineer’s automaker, Audi isn’t just looking to replicate a conventional engine sound.

“The obvious approach would be to work on the basis of the familiar sound of a combustion engine,” says Christian Schüller, Head of Brand Development/Corporate Identity. “On the other hand, we want to underscore that an electric or hybrid Audi is an innovative product. We also want to make our Vorsprung durch Technik audible in the era of electric mobility.”

– By: Stephen Calogera