Hello, I've just heard an electric vehicle sound like a V8.
Before you think that I am absolutely crazy, what I am, I am not in this case.
I'm actually here in Harman in Novi, Michigan, and they're an autosupply with their hands all over the auto industry. One of the newest specialties is the synthesis of sound for electric vehicles.
And the sound I heard?
That could be the future of the auto industry.
If you are unfamiliar with Harman, chances are that you are indeed.
Harman is a vendor responsible for a number of premium audio brands licensed to various automakers.
If you've ever heard of Lexus' Mark Levinson system or Lincoln's rivals, they're all under Harman's big screen.
The Harman plant in Novi, Michigan also has a [UNKNOWN] design team that gives each system a unique look that matches its unique sound profile.
Harman let me experience his EV sound synthesis on a Tesla Model S. Equipped with a digital signal processor and a pair of external speakers. The sounds are available both inside and outside the cabin.
The first sound I experienced was a V8.
It was weird to hear the faint rumble of an eight-cylinder engine in an otherwise Tesla.
As the car accelerated, the noise level rose, as did a V8 that made its way up, albeit without changing gear.
[BLANK_AUDIO] The second sound was a bit more futuristic.
For me, it sounded like someone's idea of what a UFO would sound like.
Also, this sound profile changed his mood as the car accelerated and decelerated.
While the V8 sound was louder outside the car, the futuristic sound for the driver and front passenger was more like a treat.
Some other manufacturers come to Harmon with ideas, while others agree that Harmon takes over the heavy lifting.
In any case, it takes a few weeks for a team of engineers to create a sound.
Before being tested outside, he goes through Harmon's listening group, where trained listeners rate the sound in a room that is furnished with soft leather sofas, sound ending material, and plenty of speakers.
During one of the noises that I experienced, the feeling was that it was focused on the occupants, the main advantage of this technology is the safety of people outside the vehicle.
Electric vehicles are quiet, so generating synthetic sounds is one way to prevent hearing-impaired pedestrians from accidentally stepping in front of an electric vehicle.
Governments around the world, including the US, are demanding these sounds in future electric vehicles. It is therefore advisable for Harmon to be one step ahead of the curve and to develop a solution for car manufacturers who currently like it.
Personalization could also have an impact, some buyers may not want their car to sound like EUFO, others kill that chance.
When you offer a variety of sounds to an owner, each vehicle can get an extra sense of uniqueness.
And, as Harmon said, one day it could become an after-market add-on that allows owners of older electric vehicles to join in the fun.
The sounds of an electric vehicle are only for safety.
They also give a car a personality.
Something special that sets it apart from the crowd and appeals to consumers better.
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 the next time you enter a dealer.