Thrilling. Exciting. Evocative. Electrifying even. All adjectives that can be used to describe the effect a car or bike could have on a person. All these effects are identified as such by the five sensory receptors of touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. Take one of these senses away and it constitutes a severe disability. Does it mean, then, that with the absence of sound in an EV, we’re actually handicapping ourselves?
Well, on the one hand, the silence of an EV can truly insulate you from the chaos of daily life and be quite calming as a result. But, on the other hand, it does rob you of a crucial component of the aural experience. Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll find a visit I made to the Lamborghini headquarters to celebrate 60 years of this legendary marque. While we were out in the Tuscan hills in a striking convoy of Lamborghinis, we encountered a bunch of school kids crossing the road. As they attempted to collect their jaws off the pavement following the sight of these supercars – each in the exact shade of their favourite M&M flavours – the driver of each car blipped the throttle to elevate their experience just that little bit more, at which point each child jumped for joy. Frankly, I don’t see any EV making that kind of impact.
The ear converts sound waves into signals that are processed through the auditory cortex of the temporal lobe to enable us to identify the sound and make sense of the world around us. It’s no wonder, then, that BMW is working with Academy Award winning composer Hans Zimmer to develop a signature sound to help people connect with their EVs. Or take the Fiat Abarth 500e, which is equipped with a sound generator that reproduces the engine sound of its ICE-powered sibling. I can’t say for sure, but I’m inclined to believe that Hans Zimmer wouldn’t approve!
What I’ll take away from my most recent Lamborghini experience is, in fact, the sonorous cacophony emanating from the massive exhaust attached to the end of a fire breathing motor bouncing off the Tuscan hills and magnifying the experience ‘manifold’ (pun intended). If that doesn’t raise the hair on the back of your neck, you don’t have a pulse – or hearing at the very least.
What I fear is that, as we lose this most primal of characteristics from the motorcar, we’ll struggle to get kids really excited about the automobile. If it’s just the size of the microchip that separates the electric car from the smart phone, it’s not surprising that the next generation would opt for the iPhone and leave the EV by the wayside.