The world of performance cars is flipping upside down at a rapid pace. If you're a stat sheet bench racer or acceleration junkie who wants the absolute last word in performance cars, you've got to look at electric tarmac-rippers like the 1,914-horsepower Rimac C_Two. Nothing in the combustion world can touch these things for lightning-fast 0-60 times and final bragging rights at the stop lights.
Many petrolheads are still not impressed. Sure, they go fast, goes the argument, but they can't be fun without the roaring concerto of exploding fuel garnishing the experience. Even the twin turbos don't make enough noise for some people; it's naturally aspirated or don't bother.
Personally, I feel like once you've gone full throttle in a Tesla or pinned a Lightning bike wide open, and felt your organs pushed backwards so hard it's almost like you've crashed in reverse, the argument should be over. That performance is king and noise is a pleasant by-product. But I may be on an island here.
Either way, Soundracer has a solution. Remember these guys? Soundracer is a Swedish company that makes gadgets that plug into your car cigarette lighter, connect to your stereo and make any car sound like a roaring V8, a snarling V10, or more or less anything you want it to sound like.
I bought my brother one way back in 2010 and it became the focus of one of our very first video reviews:
Now, they're making a new version that you wire into your electric car to make it sound like your choice of angry combustion engines on the inside and the outside. Because that's another perceived problem with EVs – they're so quiet that people think they'll run over clueless pedestrians left, right and center. It's the car version of "loud pipes save lives," the saying Harley riders use to justify their ear-bleeding exhausts.
By adapting the Soundracer tech to work with electric cars, the team has had to overcome some challenges, not least of which is that previous versions are able to read your vehicle's engine speed as a series of alternator pulses through the cigarette lighter. Electrics have no such simple interface.
Thus, the Electric Vehicle Electronic Engine Sound System, or EVEESS (catchy name!) needs to be plumbed into the car's wiring in a way that allows it to read the EV's motor speeds to convert them to an RPM signal that the sound module can use.
Each car requires a different installation, making things a little complicated, but if worst comes to worst you can switch to a hall sensor that simply measures wheel revolution speeds and works off that.
The EVEESS needs to be plugged into its own set of speakers, which you can mount inside and/or outside the car as you please. There's weatherproof ones for the exterior, and they're loud enough to really let pedestrians know you're coming, and give them time to scratch their heads as a Nissan Leaf or an electric scooter cruises by sounding like a freakin' monster truck. Here's the scooter in action:
One hidden benefit to this is that it gives electric motorcycles an actual idle sound. Just about everyone that rides one accidentally turns the throttle without realising the bike is on, leading to varying degrees of pain and embarrassment, and this could solve that altogether.
Despite the fact that most EVs are single-speed, the Soundracer team has thankfully decided to add the option of automatic gear changes based on how hard you're accelerating or decelerating and what speed you're doing. So you won't find yourself cruising down the freeway with the engine roaring as if you're stuck in first.
Here's a video of the system fitted to a Tesla:
If you're of the opinion that EVs shouldn't sound like ICE cars, but still want them to be more audible to pedestrians, Soundracer says it's got some non-combustion sounds – or you can even build a sound profile yourself, as Soundracer will happily provide you with a Windows-based tool to create whatever engine sound you'd like.
It's a pity it's more complex to fit than the original – a cigarette lighter plug is a very low barrier to entry, and a lot of EV owners who'd otherwise think it was good fun might not jump at one if they have to roll the sleeves up and play with wiring.
But still, it's here, and if you want to spice your EV up with a bit of noise, you've got the option. Kits vary in price depending on speaker and connector options, but should come in under about US$300. The starter sounds include a Shelby V8, Lamborghini V10, Lexus LFA V10, Ferrari V12, Suzuki GSX-R and Harley V-Twin.
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