back to article Lightning to thunder with speed-creep beating V8 roar

UK electric car company Lightning is to fit its upcoming two-seaters with digitally recorded V8 engine noise in a bid to help pedestrians and other road users hear the otherwise silent sportscars coming. And it'll aid the driver too, the company told Register Hardware, by preventing accidental speeding. Lightning GT …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh ha ha.

    "Mind you, they could always look, of course..."

    All well and good, but it takes a long time to build up an internal model of the world around you. The current model is "cars make noise".

    Lightning have come up with a good solution, but it won't change the world -- it's a crutch, a stop-gap.

    I reckon the government should legislate a minimum noise level for vehicles by size. This level should of course decrease with time as people get used to the idea that vehicles aren't inherently noisy. We'll slowly get into the habit of looking more.

  2. blackworx

    Missed a trick

    They want to have alternative recordings, such as the 1812 overture, possibly with a whuppawhuppa helicopter noise on top, or a nasal yuppie voiceover repeating helpful phrases like:





  3. Frank


    This is an old idea and I'm surprised that the manufacturers have only just picked up on it. Apart from obvious safety considerations, it's a good marketing move since who wants to drive a 'sports car' that sounds like a milk float?

    The next stage is customisable sound generators, maybe using a plug in SD card or USB stick, then you can have a leccy Mini that sounds like a Ferrari as you howl down the street to the supermarket.

  4. John Latham


    This is a completely stupid idea, presumably raised to generate a bit more press coverage.

    Much of the external noise on modern cars comes from the tyres. As far I know the Lightning is not going to levitate.

    As for noise feedback for speed inhibition, engine noise is rev-related not speed-related. Since modern satnavs generally know the speed limit, a simple strip of LEDs (like gear change indicators) would suffice.

  5. Steve

    Missing the point

    Isn't the removal of noise pollution one of the advantages of electric vehicles, and damping the engine noise is something that most prestige manufacturers spend a lot of money on. Deliberately making it noisy again seems like a retrograde step. (I should get a prize for using retrograde in a real sentence :-) )

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No aural frame of reference???

    Whats that got to do with anything? What do these drivers think that large dial with MPH written on it and numbers around it is, the latest bank interest rates meter?? And how do they think electric train drivers cope with no engine noise?

  7. Steven Jones

    Silent Vehicles

    "Mind you, they could always look, of course..."

    Well that's unless you are a (literally) blind pedestrian of course. In any event, if you do take away another sensory input into navigating inherently dangerous roads without at least evaluating it is will cause more serious accidents then that strikes me as a cavalier thing to do. Not everybody is fully alert at all times.

    It might be a good idea to think through rather than make facile comments, even if it is a Friday.

  8. Anonymous Coward


    Those of us dreaming of a future without boy racer twats rattling the windows with their poxy tarted-up pimplewagons might not greet this particular news item with much joy. On the economy side, wouldn't running a set of large, heavy loudspeakers (bass drivers are particularly inefficient) affect the performance and endurance of any feasible electric car?

  9. Steve
    Thumb Up

    V8 roar?

    Who wants a boring V8. Can't we load "F-18.mp3", or "FlyingScotsman.mp3" instead? I bet they'd get pedestrians' attention.

    Hey, an idea. Never mind downloadable ringtones at £1.50 a pop, "70litres of 98 unleaded, and an RR Merlin effect, please"...

  10. Martin Budden Silver badge

    and this is what it will sound like...

  11. Pete James


    Just give it some decent straight-cut gear whine so it sounds like a competition transmission inside the motor. Pedestrians will hear that - and if they don't, well if they can't look before crossing a road then the muppetts deserve what's coming.

    They could also restyle it to make it so drop-jawingly outstandingly beautiful it will stop traffic and pedestrians in the first place. It's been over well over 30 years since the Countach broke cover and we're overdue something on a similar richter scale in the automotive world.

  12. Avi

    The next ringtone?

    Wasn't it only the other week you were talking about what'd be the 'next ringtone'.

  13. Sam

    Want one.

    With a Merlin engine sound.

  14. Martin Lyne



  15. John Macintyre


    "Mind you, they could always look, of course..."

    if you have a car doing 0-60 in 4 seconds, it could flatten you before you'd seen it turn onto the road you were crossing, looking with cars this fast isn't going to help in a lot of situations

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Top Gear

    I wonder what lap time the Stig can get.

  17. George

    And the first person to mention...

    ...blind people can delete their account on the Reg. Blind people use crossings and are actually far safe than other pedestrians who simply don't realise those big moving metal things kills or realise if we touch them there is a big compo claim coming our way!

    Wow, I'm angry today.

  18. TimM

    Forget V8, make it KITT

    Just give us a car that has KITT's swooshing sounds, and make the sat nav sound like KITT's voice, and they're on to a winner.

    May even not mind the fact you have to recharge it after going 10 miles.

  19. Matt Bryant Silver badge


    I remember back in the early eighties when Honda started putting a lot of sound-deadening material into the enginebay of their saloons, and the cars were much quieter, and the number of peadestrians knocked down by Hondas went up. The victims said they didn't hear the quieter car coming - what they meant was they heard the car but assumed from the low noise it was further away and didn't look before stepping out.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    This will sell

    The dream car has been delivered. All sing haleluia... Now with added teenager appealing fart-pipe VOOOOOOOOM. All it needs is a "I have a small pen*s" sticker on the back and it will match its target market 100%.

    No thanks, I like my cars as quiet as possible. Me coat.

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. stuart barkley
    Jobs Halo

    Switchable noises?

    Maybe cockpit selectable noise?

    A loud tyre screeching followed by a thud as you drive past.

    High pitched screams of a formula 1 car.

    The sound of a low-flying passenger jet.

    Endless fun!

  23. TeeCee Gold badge

    Opportunity knocks.

    Presumably the thing's largely computer controlled and most of that's "soft" to allow for ease of tuning / upgrades etc.

    So, two questions then. Firstly, does it have Bluetooth built in and second, what's the security like?

    The prospect of being able to upgrade these things from "V8 rumble" to "Crazy Frog" as they drive past is giving me the giggles here.

  24. Joe Montana


    I would prefer the growl of a V12 myself...

    Cars have been getting quieter for years, most of the sound from modern cars comes from the tyres and the air being displaced by the vehicle as it moves... You have to have a modified/damaged car, or be driving like an idiot (ie over revving in low gears) for the engine to make enough noise to be noticed these days.

  25. yonorri

    "Mind you, they could always look, of course..."

    Why would pedestrians start doing that just because of the introduction of electric cars, they've spent the last hundred odd years stepping out in front of cars that make plenty of noise, why change the habits of a lifetime or two?

    And if they do rely on hearing rather than looking, that can always be sorted by the use of a walkman to totally deaden the senses!

  26. Steven Jones


    And of course there are pedestrian crossings at all convenient points in housing estates,and village roads and all the suburban roads and carparks...

    No, I thought not so another facile comment. There have been studies already started into this - above about 25mph then tyre noise apparently suffices, but at slower speeds people either underestimate distances or don't hear the vehicle if it's further away. It's not just blind people either.

    The changes required are modest and they don't need to be intrusive. Various blind organisations are sponsoring research on this and it is readily resolvable.

    Of course this has nothing at all to do with faked V8 noises so that petrol- (electromotive-) heads like Jeremy Clarkson can go into ecstacy.

  27. Damn Yank
    Thumb Up

    Meet George Jetson... (flying car)

    That's the sound I want.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Ahh crap

    Damn it! As someone who lives next to a reasonably busy road I've been wishing for silent cars for years. So know we'll have artificial noise for those too lazy to turn their head a few degrees to the left and right?

    What the hell is wrong with this world? It's bad enough that you get idiots deliberately modifying their cars and bikes to make as much noise as possible, but faking engine noise which doesn't exist?

    Wouldn't it be nice to be able to hear the birds sing in a city centre? To have a conversation in a car without raising your voice? To get an undisturbed nights sleep? Aren't these things more important to the well-being of the majority than the lives of a handful of muppets?

  29. Dave Walker
    Thumb Up


    My vote is either for the 'Leccy bikes from Akira or the Light Cycles from Tron.

    (of course a proximity activated automatic horn with the beloved Class 43 klaxon would be priceless)

  30. Master Baker

    Boy Racers Car

    Everyone who comments blah blah about boy racers... could a boy racer really afford one of these? Making a leccy car sound nice isn't going to affect the boy racer problem at all - for better or for worse, so shut the fuck up ball bags :-)

    Personally I'd have it play "ding dong, Avon calling".

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Yes, S; as in Silent. Damn people killers.

    Aural - or Oral; as in Paris.

    Merlin sound - Never mind that - how about a merkin sound? (ok, I know that's not possible, but it is funny to think about).

  32. Mitch Kent

    @ First post

    "I reckon the government should legislate a minimum noise level for vehicles by size..."

    I'm sorry, but are you serious? I looked, hard, for irony and such but was left wanting... I mean, I... I just... Huh?!!

  33. b
    Thumb Up

    what a lovely looking motor!


  34. RaelianWingnut
    Thumb Down

    @John Latham


    A better idea would be a simple audible alert which triggers near the speed limit and provides feedback on the approach. It doesn't have to be intrusive.

    An LED strip? Do you watch tv much while you drive?

  35. John Robson Silver badge

    Great internally

    But externally there are much better noises to simulate than a V8.

    Those new broadband noise generators being put in sirens for instance, not in the same pattern obviously, but at low speed it might prove useful for cyclists (who would need to be owls to look for these cars). It's really rather useful for cyclists to know when some idiot is coming up behind them.*


    * Yes I'm a cyclist, no I don't listen to music while I commute, yes I do try and watch out for vehicles and assist them by indicating when there is no approaching traffic (i.e. when it's safe to overtake) as I can usually see round the corner first...

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Va va va....whooosh

    The Green Cross Code never really sunk in - or is only remembered by people of a certain age - driving a hybrid Lexus I found this is reality (and being of a certain age!). Supermarket car parks or anywhere at low speed where the 'leccy motors havn't switched over to 4-stroke - car becomes a magnet for sensory challenged human lemmings... a taser or cattle-prod should be standard.

    (Paris - know a thing or two about long hard battery operated rides!)

  37. WonkoTheSane Silver badge

    Is it just me?

    Or does it bear a remarkable resemblance to a Marcos?

    Gas Turbine sound effect for me please.

  38. Alex King

    To the noise nazis...

    ...or non-drivers as they're probably known by others. Human beings have evolved with five senses for a reason - it's safer that way if you can hear things coming that might kill you. Whether or not people should look, they don't, and a noisy thing that might just save an odd life while people adapt to the new tech could just be seen as a good thing.

    "But my street's too noisy, my hotmail looks different, my facebook's got too much white space, let's sign a petition, whine, bitch, moan etc..."

  39. PunkTiger

    Road Music

    Great... All we need now is some yobbo to hack the sound generator so he can pump his iTunes Drum'n'Bass playlist through the engine at "V8 roar" levels.

  40. John Latham


    "An LED strip? Do you watch tv much while you drive?"

    LEDs are used as gear change indicators on proper cars where audible warnings are drowned out by engine and/or wind noise. They are positioned within peripheral vision so you don't need to shift focus.

    Besides, you don't want an audible beep - it would irritate the totty in the passenger seat.

  41. Oldfogey


    GPS dont know what speed limits are, as there is no database of them, as there should be.

    GPS is used to warn of camera locations, but that is quite different.

  42. Jeffrey Nonken

    Oh sure.

    "Mind you, they could always look, of course..."

    GREAT idea, works well for blind pedestrians. Good show. MUCH better than giving them the aural cues they're expecting. "Maybe they should just look." Uh huh.

    Way to go.

  43. Jeffrey Nonken

    OK, I deleted my account...

    "And the first person to mention... ...blind people can delete their account on the Reg. Blind people use crossings and are actually far safe than other pedestrians who simply don't realise those big moving metal things kills or realise if we touch them there is a big compo claim coming our way!

    "Wow, I'm angry today."

    Oooh, I forgot that 100% of crossings are well-lit, have aural prompts, and that all drivers pay attention to conditions and traffic lights. We KNOW nobody ever runs red lights if they're in a hurry and think they can get away with it. So I'd better delete my El Reg account.

    Wow, I'm sarcastic today.

    Those were the first four articles I encountered in a Google search for "blind hybrid cars", they were not cherry-picked, and all four of them claim that it's blind people who are complaining about the dangers to them from silent hybrids.

  44. Anonymous John

    @ AKIRA!!!!!

    "'Leccy bikes"


  45. Tim Hughes

    Clue to driving style

    Something that noone seems to have mentioned yet is the fact that engine noise gives you a big clue as to how a vehicle is being driven and its type without having to see it/before it comes into view.

    A pedestrian or cyclist can tell immediately that the vehicle coming past is a truck or bus, or that the sudden burst of engine sound is a 17 year old thrashing the nuts off an 1100cc Fiesta with a stupid exhaust mod. These aural clues are, I reckon, actually very important to your average person's level of awareness and will make them conciously pause and look before they step off the pavement even if the little man is green.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We solved this years ago

    I solved this 25 years ago by fastening a baseball card into the path of my tire-spokes with a laundry pin. People could hear my BMX from a mile away!

  47. Steve Dulieu

    It's UK built and called Lightning?

    Then surely only one sound will do, when I was a lad I was at an air show that had an English Electric Lightning pull it's party piece of fly in low level, stand on it's tail and go vertical on full re-heat, it was the most awesome thing I've ever heard.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Noise levels

    Waaaaa....... cars are too noisy

    Waaaaa....... new cars are too quiet

    Newton's 32nd law of thermodynamics:

    If a system in equilibrium is taken out of equilibrium by the addition, subtraction or modification of one or more elements affecting the system then some whiny troll bastard will complain about the change and another whiny troll bastard will complain about the whiny troll bastard complaining about the change.

  49. Pete
    Paris Hilton

    I'd have mine play...

    The crazy frog.

    (Paris because she looks like a frog)

  50. Anonymous Coward

    Oh, that's not new at all!

    It's a feature we can all have:

  51. Anonymous Coward

    no noise - lose the speaker

    well that'll reduce the number of blind pedestrians around and inherently speed us all up!

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