What should an electric car sound like?

For more than a century, the internal combustion engine has powered vehicles through a complex combination of moving parts and tiny explosions. This combustion process inevitably makes noise, and that noise has come to define the background soundscape of our roads, our cities, and our daily lives. But as hybrid and electric vehicles have become more commonplace (and more of their near-silent electric motors have taken over the streets), it’s clear that quiet vehicles don’t fit into the ecosystem we’ve built around cars.

After efforts by associations for the blind and visually impaired, legislation was finally adopted. began to demand Electric vehicles emitted artificial engine noise from hidden external speakers. These hidden speaker systems, called “acoustic vehicle alert systems” (AVAS), had to meet certain sound criteria. But they also provided a blank slate for sound designers, who had to decide what the cars of the future should sound like.

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