As electric cars take to the streets, our urban soundscape will change forever.
As anyone who’s watched (and heard) Formula E will know, electric vehicles are much quieter than those with internal combustion engines. Indeed, this relative quiet is a factor that has allowed Formula E races to be hosted in urban environments where Formula 1 would struggle, and makes Formula E more compatible with built-up and densely-populated surroundings.
Such quietness will also be a feature of Jaguar’s new electric road vehicles and so is particularly good news for towns and cities – for drivers and residents alike. But that level of ‘hush’ has potential challenges too.
"Cities are going to become an awful lot quieter with electric vehicles. We've been reducing noise in all our vehicles for years, but the new electric vehicle technology gives us an interesting challenge in that all of a sudden they're slightly too quiet. There is a potential that pedestrians won't hear them coming. So as a co-user of the city space we have to make sure our vehicles are safe and responsible."
Iain Suffield, NVH technical specialist, Jaguar Land Rover
Jaguar cars have always had a reputation for sounding great, and Jaguar’s new electric car will be no different, but in order to be safely heard at low speeds it has to emit a new type of sound to alert other road users to its oncoming presence and direction. Equally, at other times, the sound needs to engage the driver and give feedback about the car’s dynamic progress. As to what these various sounds will be, customers will have wait until they can test-drive the production model, on sale from 2018.