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Lotus makes cars roar

Lotus and Harman Becker sign agreement for a number of audio technologies.

Engine Order Cancellation diagram
Engine Order Cancellation actively counteracts engine noise. Lotus

In an odd case of backflow, Lotus will be providing automotive infotainment system manufacturer Harman Becker with a variety of audio technologies. Harman Becker, a division of Harman International, is behind a large number of audio brands found among major automakers, including Harman Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Lexicon, and Mark Levinson. With that kind of portfolio, it is surprising to find the company needs help with audio technology.

The deal also highlights Lotus' hidden side. Known for unique-looking sports cars marked by excellent handling, Lotus also engages in pure engineering, developing efficient power trains, crash safety gear, and suspension systems.

Lotus Evora
The Lotus Evora is the latest example of Lotus engineering on the road. CNET

Lotus will provide Harman three audio technologies, one being active noise cancellation. With this system, microphones monitor engine and road noise and feed the signal to a processor. That processor generates a signal that will counter the frequencies of the noise. When the signal is played through the car's audio system, it deadens sound in the cabin.

Harman also gets some sound generating technologies from Lotus. One, designed for silent-running hybrid and electric cars, creates a sound broadcast from external speakers in a car. This sound helps alert blind people to the car's location.

Another sound generating technology offered by Lotus creates engine sounds tied to actual engine speed. This signal is intended for playback in the cabin, giving drivers the feeling that their car has an exciting exhaust note. With this last one, electric cars could deliver the roar of a V-8 in the cabin, or Mazdas could really make a zoom-zoom sound.