Up to 25km/hr, electric cars make practically no sound at all, which can feel odd to the driver, and dangerous for the pedestrians. Past the 25km/h mark, only the sound of slipstream and rolling tires remind the driver that he is actually driving a car. There are laws on the books in Japan and the United States meant to protect the visually impaired from silent cars. To address this concern, Audi is working on a soundscape design, using the e-tron model as a prototype. This will artificially create some noise for its future all-electric vehicles.
Audi doesn't want to simply mimic the sound of an internal combustion engine. The automaker is developing a sound design that's in concert conceptually with an electric vehicle. "The sounds used for space ships in films are reminiscent of car sounds, yet are also very different, making this a rather interesting approach," says Dr. Ralf Kunkel, Head of Acoustics at AUDI AG. "But the sound will be new and unusual. The Audi RSQ from the Hollywood film I, Robot gives an indication of how an Audi might sound in the future."