Electric mobility is quiet. Therefore, the question arises how electric cars should sound – floating silently or with an artificial engine noise? “The sound gives the electric vehicle its own voice, which we can design ourselves completely independently of mechanical noises,” explains Klaus Bischoff, Head of Design Volkswagen Brand, at the Volkswagen Group DRIVE. Forum in Berlin on Wednesday evening. For the first time he presented the new soundscape of the ID.3 to a public audience – the first all-electric vehicle from Volkswagen and the flagship of the new ID. family. A consequence of the electrification of the car means that driving noises are becoming more like very faint ambient background noises. For sound designers, this creates completely new possibilities and challenges.
It is important to know: The sound of a vehicle also has a safety aspect. Because electric cars do not emit engine noises that can be identified by other road users, especially pedestrians, these vehicle noises must be artificially generated. This is required by law up to speeds of 30 km/h. The result: in the next few years you will often hear the modern ID.3 sound in the city.
New sounds for the interior
After all, peace and quiet has become a luxury today. “We are under constant exposure to sound and experience a constant wall of noise. E-vehicles have the chance to reinterpret silence,” continues Klaus Bischoff. In the car, on the other hand, it is fairly quiet – so quiet in fact that you don’t even know if the vehicle is running at all.
The Sound Design team has also created completely new sounds for the interior. The digital sound is elegant and modern at the same time – but makes the driver more aware of functionalities and safety instructions than before. In future, the driver will be greeted with an acoustic signal after boarding the ID.3. The message behind it: ‘Hello, I’m ready to go.’ The acoustic signal is combined with a light pulse.
“We wanted to give the electric vehicle a very special sound”
With a combustion engine, the driver recognizes when the engine is running. This is not the case with the electric car, which is why the initial gear engagement is accompanied by a purposely designed sound. “Now I know that when I press the pedal, the journey begins,” explains Klaus Bischoff. Another typical noise in the vehicle occurs when the indicator signal is engaged. Originally, this sound had to overcome the engine noise, which is why it is so striking. “But that’s not necessary in an electric car”, says Klaus Bischoff. The Volkswagen sound designers have therefore reinterpreted this classic click-clack sound. Somewhat quieter, digital and more modern. Nevertheless, every vehicle occupant knows immediately what this noise means. The team has also developed its own sound for incoming calls. As on the smartphone, these sounds can be individually configured with the ID.3. “We wanted to give the electric vehicle a very special sound,” says Bischoff.
Ranges of up to 550 kilometers
The ID.3 is the first model, no less, of a completely new generation of pure electric vehicles – balance sheet CO2-neutral, highly efficient, and fully connected. Like any future ID. models, the ID.3 is based on the new modular electric drive matrix (MEB), which was specially designed for pure electric drive and makes the best possible use of the opportunities offered by e-mobility. The ID.3 has significantly longer ranges, plenty of interior space and outstanding performance. The scalable battery system offers ranges from 330 to 550 kilometers with short charging times – and at an entry-level price of less than 30,000 euros. The market launch is planned throughout Europe for summer 2020.
With this new soundscape, the ID.3 will not only convince visually, but also acoustically.