The sounds of driving that are muffled by conventional engines at higher rpms are more obvious in cars with electric drives, and convey a different sense of speed. Insulation and other materials therefore play a more important role. A calm acoustic backdrop, according to Kögler, is what enables individual sounds to come into their own. “Calm is like an arena, and sound design is like a freestyle presentation,” she adds. Silence, however, can also be unpleasant. “We don’t want silence,” she says. “What we’re after is calm.”
Noise and sound affect trust
When drivers turn on their blinkers in quiet electric cars, they hear them more clearly. And that sound is therefore more important for the UX designers as well. The mechanics is the playing field for analogue sound design, because it, too, conveys how high-quality something is. “Sounds have to meet expectations and reflect what people associate with them,” says Wilhelm.
“A blinker, for example, is comparable to tapping someone you’d like to talk to,” says Kögler. You can destroy a lot of trust if it doesn’t sound right, and instill a lot if it sounds good. “We look at how the pitman arm is configured on the steering wheel and how it interacts with the blinker. As far as we’re concerned, material that makes a lot of noise is not acceptable.” The two designers place a priority on saturated sound. Ultimately what they want are associations of quality.