Although Audi's future e-tron models will be powered by practically silent electric motors, the vehicles will still emit sounds, albeit electronically. According to Audi engineer Rudolf Halbmeir, sound is an “exciting aspect” of a vehicle that plays a crucial role in driving experience. Thus, he is developing Audi e-sound for all future e-tron models.
All models will have a synthetic sound signature, distinct from one another. The e-sound will allow drivers to experience real driving. According to the company, sounds send signals to the driver and passengers: low-range frequencies suggest power and composure while mid-range frequencies emit sportiness and agility. Using this as reference, Audi’s e-tron sports car models in the future will emit e-sounds of mid-range frequencies, to register an aura of sportiness and agility.
According to Dr. Ralf Kunkel, Head of Acoustics at Audi, their experience on auto acoustics enabled them to gain expertise, allowing them to learn how to amplify pleasant frequencies and to suppress unpleasant noises. With this, Audi aims to build vehicles that produce sound signatures that are not only well-rounded and harmonious but also give a sense of premium quality and respectability. But making distinct sound signatures for each model is not easy as Kunkel admits that good sound design is a complex endeavour.
Halbmeir conducted a demonstration how e-sound works. He drove a red Audi R8 e-tron, making different gas pedal movements as he negotiates the road. As it is, the car indeed sounds like a sports car. The R8 e-tron will be just the beginning for Audi, as Halbmeir continues to develop and search for the right acoustic signature that would fit a certain e-tron model.