What do electric cars sound like?

Some car manufacturers are looking for sound that can alert people with reduced vision to the presence of silent electric vehicles. But how should something sound that does not sound like anything? One of the great advantages of electric vehicles is undoubtedly its low noise level, which will soon change the chaotic sounds cape of cities dominated by the hum of internal combustion cars. Yes, new cars will not only free us from pollution, but also from noise pollution, caused mainly by current road traffic. 19% of Spaniards are exposed to noises harmful to health. A study led by the public health agency of Ontario (Canada) argues that dementia, a syndrome that affects more than 47 million people worldwide – and that will amount to 135 in 2050 according to the World Health Organization – It can intensify because of the noise of the cars. For protection of your cars buy vw beetle outdoor car cover.

What do electric cars sound like?

The utopia of a noise-free city is close, but electric vehicles are so quiet that they can go unnoticed, especially for those with reduced vision. The ONCE has already warned of the possible risks that it may entail for the blind. “When they travel at a speed of less than 20 kilometers per hour, hybrid and electric cars emit virtually no sound, but many people with visual impairments depend on noise to know when they can cross a street safely,” explains the Organization. Blind, who has demanded a regulation for cars and bicycles, because the probability of a collision with a person “increases by 40 percent in relation to audible vehicles”. Manufacturers are now entering the fascinating world of acoustic design. They have the challenge of creating a sound for an object that does not sound like anything. To give an example, how would a dog sound if we had to invent its bark?

Experts work on the future sound of electric cars

For three years, the European Commission launched a collaborative project aimed at exploring different solutions to make electric vehicles detectable with the horizon of introducing legislation as has already been done by the US National Traffic Safety Administration, which requires all electric vehicles emit some type of sound when they are traveling less than 20 kilometers an hour. Some means of transport, such as trams and some buses , have a chime sound that alerts pedestrians and drivers, and a good number of manufacturers already introduce sound signals when vehicle systems detect the proximity of an object against the vehicle. that can collide. These alarms only warn of danger when it is imminent. However, Don Norman, director of Design Laboratory at the University of San Diego, believes that the sound of a car should work like the turn signals or brake lights: they warn of the movement of the vehicle before it occurs. “When we are in a complex environment, such as traffic in a city, the best thing a vehicle can do is say: look, here I am,” the professor told Wired magazine. The proposed solution of the Ustwo Design Studio, which can be heard here,  was to change the tone and volume of the vehicle sound as the proximity of a danger increases, which would serve to alert in advance of a possible collision.

These acoustic signals are similar to those developed within the project sponsored by the European Commission (eVader), whose main work was based on the search for sounds that were capable of alerting users, on the one hand, and maintaining the levels of noise below those of a combustion vehicle so that the electric car would continue to retain one of its great virtues: silence. However, another project carried out by the National Research Agency of France, named MetaSon, concluded that this type of sounds left out parameters as important for people as knowing if a vehicle is accelerating or reducing its speed. Therefore, cars had to be provided with their own sound. Explosion vehicles emit noise in a natural way, but for electricians you have to invent one; a new sound that will be forever linked to an object. A study conducted by the Institute for Research and Acoustic / Musical Coordination of France (IRCAM) found that white sounds, like buzzes, or similar to those of an engine or an exhaust pipe were more acceptable to citizens than the whistles and chimes .

But to create the sound of an electric car, the main thing was to find a noise that the people themselves recognized as such. Thus, they looked at science fiction, film films such as Regreso al Futuro II, THX 1138 and Gattaca, to see what kind of sounds the creators had used for their futuristic vehicles. The IRCAM study concluded that although these sounds have proven to be believable for people, they are perhaps too dramatic for a daily car. The tests to find the noise that defines the cars of the future are still in the development phase . Until then, electric vehicles will continue to sound like nothing.

Fast Cargo Iberian Runners

The CIRVE project is already underway. 40 recharging points in Spain that will have to be ready for all users in 2020. 25 of these points will be completely new and the rest will be adapted for common use. This European initiative has in Spain with the support of Endesa, IBIL, Renault, EDP, GIC, Iberdrola, the association AEDIVE and the Center for Excellence and Innovation of Portugal, CEIIA, and is a step forward in the interoperability of charging points fast for electric cars in Spain. All the members of the consortium signed an agreement at the end of February in the headquarters of Endesa that will allow the interoperability of the fast loaders. The project consists of the installation of 25 new recharging points and the adaptation of another 15 already installed by Ibil thanks to an investment financed through the Connect Europe Facility (CEF) call. The intention of the CIRVE plan : to open new frontiers and allow the owners of an electric vehicle to undertake larger journeys. Or what is the same, increase the supply points so that the autonomy of the batteries does not become a headache for drivers. This initiative will also offer the possibility of loading at any pointof recharge regardless of the operator to which it belongs. According to Javier Chueca, technical manager of the CIRVE project at Endesa, “the recharging infrastructure of the CIRVE project will recognize the cards presented by customers of service providers that have roaming agreements with the project’s load managers, through the platform of Hubject interoperability “. In addition, insists Javier Chueca, the shippers will be for everyone, regardless of whether there is a contract and / or card from the supplier or not: “Due to legal imperatives, the CIRVE project infrastructure can be used by any userof an electric vehicle, even if you do not have a contract with a service provider. In this case, both the price and the means of payment of the recharge will be marked by the cargo manager that operates the infrastructure. The determination of these prices will be part of the commercial policy of each company that facilitates customer service. “


From this it follows that, as is expected, more than one card, each customer can be ascribed to plan operator wishing and charging points will accept all cards or mobile applications that are subject to roaming agreements , the which is an important step for the electric community.

Where will the fast recharge points be located?

The intention of CIRVE is to begin to complete a stable network throughout the length and breadth of the peninsula, which in turn will help to interconnect Europe. In the Spanish case, with the neighboring countries France and Portugal. However, the location of the recharging points that, according to Javier Chueca explains, “will be installed in peri-urban areas that are still being selected based on the requirements of the TEN-T program” is still unknown .

The TEN-T network

The Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) is a planned set of priority transport networks designed to facilitate the communication of people and goods throughout the European Union. Through this project, Europe finances projects that it considers strategic  for the future of mobility in the old continent, among which the fast-charging infrastructure corridors for electric cars stand out.

I want to share a car, and make it electric!




In just two years, Madrid has almost half a million subscribers of electric car sharing services. The movement is unstoppable. There are many possibilities. We tell you all. The ‘car sharing’, Anglicism to refer to the carpooling service, is much more than a passing fad . Many car manufacturers have already publicly stated that the future will partly pass through this system, and that the industry requires a paradigm shift that does not focus exclusively on the owned vehicle. Only in Madrid have appeared seven car sharing companies in the last decade, and the number of subscribers grows every year. For the rest of the Spanish cities, although more slowly, they are also being implemented. The advantages of this service, apart from saving money and being able to ignore obligations such as maintenance or insurance of a car, have a more social nature, which even go beyond the user. According to the Respiro study, one of the first companies to establish in the capital, the potential of car sharing, today, can mean a reduction of up to almost half of the CO2 emissions in a large city.

But it could be much more, since that report, which was developed three years ago, did not take into account the rise of electric cars in this new modality. The last companies to arrive, Emov, Car2Go and Zity, do not have a single model with combustion engine in their fleet. And the rest, all offer the possibility of moving with an electric vehicle, if the user so wishes. This opens a new possibility: those who have not yet decided to take the step, have the opportunity to experience electric mobility for a low cost. Moving in an electric car through the city, today, is easier than ever: only in Madrid, the number of subscribers of car sharing companies with this type of vehicles has reached 400,000 in just two years, that is, a 10% of the population. There are many ways, today, to drive in an electric vehicle without having to own it, either at the wheel or with a driver. We summarize them:

Car2Go, the first 100% electric service

At the moment it operates in Madrid, and its fleet consists of Smart Fortwo EV with two seats that can only be parked inside the M-30. The cost of a Car2Go is € 0.21 / min, which rises to € 59 if it is rented for 24 hours. Cars can be booked 20 minutes in advance. Registering for this service costs 9 euros. You only have to book it up to 30 minutes in advance by means of the ‘app’, which will give you the location of the nearest car. Once you are next to the vehicle, you finish the reservation and it opens. The key to start it is always next to the dashboard screen. Today they have 500 cars,but they have already publicly announced that they will expand their fleet this year, and do not rule out including four-seater Smart. What the company has confirmed is that it will shortly include BMW i3 in its fleet, with space for five occupants.

Car 2  go intends to stand out with the acquisition of 4-seater vehicles

It is the second electric car sharing service, and for the moment, within the peninsula, it operates in Madrid and Lisbon. Its fleet consists of 600 Citroën C-Zero and the novelty, when it was introduced a little over a year ago, is that they all have four seats, and you can also park in certain areas outside the M-30. The cost of an Emov is 0.24 euros per minute, which amounts to 69 euros if you rent 24 hours. Cars can be booked 20 minutes in advance, and registration for the service costs 9 euros. The operation through the ‘app’ is similar to that of Car2Go.

This service began last year and already has a fleet of 500 Renault Zoe that reach a range of up to 300 kilometers. The cost of a Zity is 0.21 euros per minute, and 55 euros if you rent it a whole day. Cars can be reserved 20 minutes in advance and, for now, the fee is free. Another point in favor of the other two services, apart from the autonomy, is that their cars are more spacious, which will make occupants more comfortable, and have a larger trunk. In addition, you will not have to worry about finding the key: it starts as it opens: with the mobile’s ‘app’.

It will arrive in Madrid in the second half of 2018, and its fleet will be made up of two Kia models: the Niro, hybrid, and a variant of the all-electric Soul. At the moment few details are known, but the name WiBLE is a combination of the widely accessible words that, according to its responsible, means “very accessible”. Therefore, we assume that it will have a simplified rental system to the maximum and competitive prices.

Cabify : better take me

This company, which already operates in Barcelona, ​​Madrid, Malaga, Seville and Valencia, offers a hybrid service between taxi companies and car sharing. The available cars are also identified by means of an ‘app’ with geolocation, but instead of going to look for it, it is enough to wait for a driver to pick you up at the address you have entered. The prices for the journey, from origin to destination, are given in advance, and vary according to the supply and demand of cars at each moment. It has a very extensive fleet that includes cars with combustion engines but, if you wish, you can choose an electric car. In the case of the BMW i3, the price is the same. If you opt for the luxurious Tesla Model S, the rate goes up.


As a mechanical engineer turned blogger, Charlie provides readers with a technical, yet accessible look into the world of automotive engineering and design. His insightful posts make complex car technologies understandable.