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Sonic Branding Agency Unmute

The Sound of E-mobility

Updated: May 4, 2023

Both 2-wheelers and 4-wheelers have always had a variety of sounds thanks to the different types of combustion engines used. Thunderous, bold and sometimes very loud - the vroom vroom from the silencer has been a very much inseparable part of the riding or driving experience. People have even bought a specific vehicle only because of the way it sounds as they felt the sound somehow expresses their persona.

The Sound of E-mobility - Sonic Branding Agency

Cut to the age of e-mobility

Nowadays the scene is very different! Most of these machines do not make much sound! It's basically just the sound of the friction between the road and tires. Quite interestingly, research showed that driving an electric car in an absence of sound caused discomfort to the drivers and passengers alike. Also from a safety point of view electric vehicles are required a sound in order to warn pedestrians and others. In Europe it's called AVAS (Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System) which is a mandatory system introduced by the European Commission forcing all e-cars to be sonically recognizable.

Sonic Branding on the move

When automobile companies like BMW identified this problem they saw a great opportunity to also add a branded value to their sound. So they hired the famous film composer Hans Zimmer to create the sonic palette for their new BMW i4 and the result is quite remarkable. Not only did the sounds become a key feature in the car but they also became a representation of the overall sonic identity of BMW.

And it's not just relevant to cars. Electric two-wheelers like scooters and bikes also begin to have their own sound and sonic branding deployed. And when it's done right it can seamlessly bridge the gap between the actual product interface and the overall brand and marketing.

So what sounds can we expect from an electric vehicle?

  • Ambience sounds - The IC engine produces a constant hum when the vehicle is on and a designed ambient sound can provide a similar effect as the hum of the engine.

  • START / STOP - Many cars now have a very immersive START / STOP sound which reflects the persona of the car and is the starting point of your sonic experience of the car!

  • Dashboard / UX sounds - Accessing all the features like climate control, music system and navigation/maps is getting more humanized with unique UX sounds.

  • Sounds for different driving modes - Cars and 2-wheelers now have different sounds for different driving modes like for instance driving on a cruise control compared to normal mode.

As we're digitally re-imagining the real world, also when driving a vehicle, sound needs to be part of the equation in order to make it a more complete experience. And we shouldn't just limit this sonic experience to the car! The sound and music can be molded to suit other touchpoints like physical/digital car experience centers and even the manufacturing facilities. And of course, the sonic branding should make its way into the marketing initiatives as well!

All in all bits and pieces that in combination will form what we call The Sound of E-mobility!


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