My Car Quest

May 27, 2024

Fake Engine Sounds Are The Future

Yes, it’s not a joke.

by Wallace Wyss –

At first at the Los Angeles Auto Show when I heard that the new Mustang Mach E, a sort of SUV with Mustang design cues, will be available with a system to fake engine sounds, I thought they were kidding. Then over at the Porsche Taycan unveiling, same thing, some scuttlebutt about artificial sounds for the oh-so-silent electrics.

Now I know it’s a new trend worldwide. According to Jon Porter on a site called The Verge; “All new models of electric cars sold in the European Union must now make artificial noise under certain conditions. He says the system, called Acoustic Vehicle Alert Systems (aka, AVAS) will need to be installed in new models of hybrid and electric cars introduced from mid-November, and all existing models by July 2021.
All this is for pedestrian safety over there in the EU. The system will emit a sound while traveling under 12 mph, or while reversing.

Ferrari 250 GTO Engine

Ferrari 250 GTO Engine – Art by Wallace Wyss

Especially venerable are people who are blind or partially sighted. A British charity, Guide Dogs, pointed to research that says electric and hybrid vehicles are 40 percent more likely to be involved in a pedestrian accident than cars with gasoline engines.

The EU legislation requires that the sound should be similar to (and not louder than) a traditional combustion engine. And the sound has to mimic what the vehicle is doing, for example, synchronizing with a vehicle’s speed. Among the companies jumping in are Jaguar with a system for the I-Pace.

In the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will require that all hybrid and electric vehicles emit artificial noise by September 2020, although in the US. the speed limit to which they will have to emit sound up to is 18.6 mph.

I am not sure if the sound is set, at some point, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was saying the car owner should be able to select the sound they prefer from the set of sounds installed in the vehicle. But NHTSA is also seeking feedback about whether it should limit the number of fake sounds that manufacturers should be allowed to install.

I personally see a potential boom in recordings that will simulate some of the great cars of history, such as say, the V12 Ferrari Testa Rossa of the Fifties or even the more recent sound of the flat crank Mustang small block.

I wonder though, if car companies will object, say Ferrari objecting to their sound track of one of their cars being available in, say, some econo car? They have been doing this for decades in movies, by the way, adding a sound track from a more exciting car when they have a chase scene.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is requesting public comment on amending the new Quiet Vehicle safety standard FMVSS No. 141, Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles, to allow multiple driver-selectable sounds so long as they meet the existing performance requirements.

Some automakers already went and picked a sound, such as Mercedes-Benz has an artificial humming sound picked out for its electric EQC lineup. VW in its compact ID.3 electric cars has a fake sound for low speeds when they hit showroom floors in 2020. Now Mercedes AMG is most progressive, working with the rock band Linkin Park to find what one reporter called “ a more bass-slapping sound for its vehicles”.

Porsche is said to be offering an interior $500 “Electric Sport Sound” for the Taycan sports car. Then there’s a problem. Police cars like to sneak up on a site, say drug deal going down. They don’t want that sound and are asking for an “off switch.”

All I can say is, at this point I hope they are liberal in what sound can be played, maybe my little Nissan can sound like a V16 Bugatti at full song in top cog…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is co-host of Autotalk, broadcast weekly from KUCR FM Riverside.




Lamborghini Espada Engine

Lamborghini Espada Engine

Fake Engine Sounds Are The Future
Article Name
Fake Engine Sounds Are The Future
An electric car needs to make a fake engine sound to let pedestrians know one is coming.


  1. Ironically, this has been a recent topic in my household. Recall the bicycle 80’s bicycle handlebar accessory sold by Toys r Us that sounded like a Harley when you revved it? Well, if we’re gonna have silent electric cars, I say why not instigate a deep howl when we step on the gas pedal? THAT would make e-cars MUCH less painless, and MUCH sexier. Agreed?

  2. imwithstoopid says

    Oh boy, can’t wait to make my Nissan Leaf sound like a turbine or even a 427 anything. How about my “antique” ’94 Miata sounding like E-Jag.
    I have always wanted to do this.

  3. I am curious if we must have a government approved fake engine sound for the electric car or can we make up our own sound? At one time the only sound of a moving vehicle was of horses and hooves.

  4. I love the fact that one of the basic selling points of an electric vehicle has turned out to be their downfall… why not insect sounds or barnyard animals, it would we seem that some of us want to get away from fossil fuel vehicles and have embraced electric vehicles and now we are going to have them sound like a 427 Corvette… the hypocrisy is delicious… can’t wait to see what is next… don’t get me wrong driving electric cars can actually be quite fun, but some of the arguments to their benefits don’t pan out.

    • imwithstoopid says

      No hypocrisy. Has nothing to do with wanting to get rid of the car, I really like my leaf, purchased used three years ago for a very very low price in a like-new low milage car that one couldn’t tell from new, really.
      Only got it out of curiosity, and I am very happy, I got it. I am well aware of their limitations and they don’t bother me
      The sounds are, shall I say fun. Not too sure that many of us purchased them because they are quite. But they are very cheap to own, for now.
      Mine is limited to milage of a total of 90 – 100, but I rarely go 40 – 50 miles one way anyway..
      Oh. and I would like the galloping horse sound.

      P.S. Will trade you for the GTZ or any of the others in a New York minute. But getting too old anymore and the Miata is now an antique with super cheap insurance.

      • imwithstoopid says

        Damn corection, “quiet” not quite

      • As I said in my comments electric cars are actually quite fun or should I say quiet fun !:-) and I have experienced walking across a parking lot and nearly being hit by an electric vehicle I did not hear so I do understand the need.. it was the manufacturers who were touting the benefits of quiet electric vehicles… not so much the owners… !:-) ?But I love the idea that people who have them could have a real sense of humor about the cars having fun sounds.

    • The best electric sound idea I’ve heard, Jim, is the sounds of the George Jetson “car”. If I had an electric, that’s the sound I’d try to make happen …

  5. imwithstoopid says

    The Leaf is setup to make a sound when creeping along, but I can’t hear it, on the other hand, I am a double threat, very hard of hearing and half-blind (no tickets nor accidents the last 50 yrs). At my age none that i remember.

  6. I am not even surprised that the Japanese thought this one through, very thorough folks…

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