Hi, just heard an electric vehicle that sounded like a V8.
Now before you're thinking that I am absolutely crazy which I only kind of am, I'm not in this case.
I'm actually here at Harman in Novi, Michigan and they're an autosupply with their hands all across the auto industry One of the newest specialties is the synthesis of sound for electric vehicles.
And that sound that I heard, well?
That could be the future of the auto industry.
If you're not familiar with Harman, odds are that you actually are.
Harman is a supplier responsible for a number of premium audio brands licensed to various auto makers.
If you've ever listened to Lexus's Mark Levinson system or Lincoln's rival, they're both under the large Harman umbrella.
Harman's Novi, Michigan facility also has [UNKNOWN] team of designers that helps give each system its own unique look to match its unique sound profile.
Harman let me experience its EV sound synthesis on a Tesla Model S. Outfitted with a digital signal processor and a pair of external speakers Its sounds exist both inside and outside the cabin.
The first sound I experienced was that of a V8.
It was weird to hear the low rumble of an eight cylinder engine inside an otherwise Tesla.
As the car accelerated, the noise level rose, just like a V8 working its way up the tack, albeit without any gear changes.
The second sound was a little more futuristic.
To me, it sounded like someone's idea of what a UFO would sound like.
This sound profile, too, changed its tune as the car accelerated and decelerated.
While the V8 sound was louder outside the car, the futuristic sound felt more like a treat for the driver and passenger.
Some other makers come to Harmon with ideas, while others are content to let Harmon do that heavy lifting.
Either way it takes a team of engineers a few weeks to create a sound.
Before being tested outside it's run through Harmon's listening group, where trained listeners evaluate the sound in a room equipped with plush leather couches, sound ending material and a whole lot of speakers.
While one of the sounds I experienced felt like it was geared towards the occupants, the main benefit of this tech is actually safety for people outside the vehicle.
EVs are silent, so creating synthetic noises is one way that could prevent hearing impaired pedestrians from accidentally stepping in front of an EV.
Governments around the world, including the US, are actually mandating these sounds in future electric vehicles So it's wise for Harmon to get ahead of the curve and develop a solution for automakers who may currently like one.
Personalization could also play a factor, some buyers may not want their car to sound like EUFO, well, others may kill for that chance.
Offering a variety of sounds to an owner could give each vehicle an extra dash of uniqueness.
And like Harmon said, it could one day become an after-market add on Allowing owners of older EV's to get in on the fun.
The sounds of an electric vehicle arent' just for safety.
They also give a car a personality.
Something distinct that helps it stand apart from the crowd and better appeal to the consumer.
That's the kind of work Harmon is doing here in Novi and around the world.
And it's the kind of work that could show up in your car as soon as the next time you step in to a dealership.