Audi developing powertrain sound of the future for R8 e-tron

Posted on 10 April, 2012

audi e-sound

Audi knows sound, and it wants its upcoming plug-in cars to have as distinctive a grumble as possible, just like its fossil-fuel-burning brethren. That’s why Audi engineers are working on “new sound signatures” for future e-tron models. You can tell how seriously Audi is taking this by the way it references the sounds a car makes to music and “emotional sound structures” in the press release below.

The stated reason for all this e-sound work is so pedestrians will be able to hear the near-silent EVs, but you could just use any old beep to meet that requirement. Audi wants something a bit more refined, to stand out from the space-y blips that the Nissan Leaf puts out or the Volkswagen E-Golf’s baby Wookiee growl.

Scroll down to see a video of the Audi e-sound in progress. In its current form, the sound changes based on what the e-tron is doing. It comes out of a speaker blasting up to 40 watts that is attached to the bottom of the car.

Of course, the question from some blind-advocacy groups is whether having each EV make its own sound is reasonable, or if there should be one “EV sound” that all battery-powered cars are required to emit to tell those with limited sight “a car is nearby.” In the U.S., the laws governing EV sounds are not yet set, but some sort of low-speed warning requirement seems to be coming.

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