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Giorgio Moroder wants future EVs to sound a lot less lame

The father of disco and the man responsible for some of the most iconic music of all time is applying his talents to giving future cars more soul.

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Giorgio Moroder thinks you're No. 1.

FPT Industrial
This story is part of CES 2020, our complete coverage of the showroom floor and the hottest new tech gadgets around.

By their very nature, electric cars are quiet. All the sound and fury generated by thousands of tiny explosions every second goes away when you ditch internal combustion and go battery-powered. Whether thanks to federal regulations or an attempt at adding a bit of personality, most EVs make some sort of noise, but it's often a subtle hum meant to linger in the background.

Legendary music producer Giorgio Moroder wants to change that. The man who helped define the sound of the '80s and invent electronic music has worked with Italian powertrain manufacturer FPT Industrial to create a sound that will play every time one of the company's engines starts. Given the company produces some 600,000 every year, engines fired up multiple times a day in various applications, that's a big new audience.

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FPT's engines today are traditionally combusted, but as they continue to move towards electrification the company wanted to ensure that it had something of a signature. Enter Moroder. "This engine is silent," he told me on Thursday here at CES. "It's electric with hydrogen, so they wanted to have a sound from no sound." And what is that sound? It's the first four seconds of the first song in the playlist below, called Preludio. Have a listen.

The sound, Moroder said, is important for a few reasons: "First of all you know the engine works, second of all you feel safe." But beyond that, Moroder told me that a vehicle doesn't have a soul if it doesn't make noise, and that's a big part of this.

I played a few EV sounds for Moroder to get his thoughts, and he was particularly interested in the Audi E-Tron noise. "I was involved with Tron quite a lot, and this is quite good."

Top Gun is another film he was very involved in, and I couldn't help asking him whether he'll be involved in the upcoming Top Gun: Maverick. "I met Tom Cruise about six months ago and I finally had to say 'OK, I'm going to work.' I definitely want to do something." I, for one, sincerely hope he does.

As big as that would be, Moroder says that his work with FPT Industrial could be even bigger, perhaps his biggest project ever. "This is much bigger," he said, referencing all his work that's come before. That may sound optimistic, but consider this: Of all the music that Brian Eno has created in his storied career, has anything been heard more widely than the start-up sound he made for Windows 95