back to article Lotus offers to end e-car silent running

Lotus has announced a raft of systems designed to solve all your pesky car noise problems. And that includes the owners of e-cars, whose worry is that their vehicles make no noise whatsoever. The systems are being developed in partnership with Harman Becker Automotive Systems - and seem to have all bases covered. Drivers of …


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  1. Arnold Lieberman
    Thumb Up

    Not a new thing

    I seem to recall Lotus working on such a setup in the 1990s, when DSP tech must have been orders of magnitude more limited. I think they got a Citroen AX sounding like a V8...

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Looking forward to this one

    I was at a presentation by the Lotus chaps who created all of this. Naturally they made it look (and sound) pretty impressive. However, even they are cringing at the thought of the Halfords lot plugging the system into their Corsas to make them sound like Aston Martins.

    One comment that stood out for me was no-one knew what the sound projection system for quiet electric cars should be. It turns out that because Holywood has been "making" sci-fi cars for years, people expect them to sound like TIE fighters or whatever. So that may well be what we'll end up with, even though the choice of sound is essentially limitless. (Fart noises, anyone?)

  3. Secretgeek

    How do I get this installed....

    ...on my 13 year old Nissan Micra?

    A bit of EOC and TNC to cancel out the rattling of my bearings and the sound effect of a TIE fighter blasting out front and rear - I want it now!

  4. NogginTheNog
    Thumb Up

    The end of...

    Drainpipe exhausts on 1.2 Novas...??!

  5. Dave Harris

    Already here

    Well I hope it sounds better than the twatty little effects boxes the Malaysian equivalent of chavs fix to their scooters. It seemed last year almost every bloody scooter in KL had one of these pathetic little things emitting an electronic impression of a bee in a biscuit tin

  6. CeeJay

    The potential for mischief with this is AWESOME!

    Day 1. Steam locomotive.

    Day 2. Jet engine.

    Day 3. Soundtrack from a pr0n.

    Day 4. Stuka dive bomber.

    Day 5. The sound of my missus grinding her teeth in her sleep.

    Day 6. The sound of chalk on a blackboard, coupled with someone breaking up bits of polystyrene.

    And just to finish the week off on a high note;

    Day 7. Chronic wet flatulence interspersed with the occasional sob and/or groan.

  7. Smallbrainfield

    Playing cards in the spokes

    would be a much cheaper solution.

  8. David Lawrence
    Thumb Up

    Could be useful.....

    ....I wonder if they could come up with a gizmo to counteract the "Wayne's mobile disco" syndrome where Wayne, so rightly proud of the huge sums of benefits money he has spent pimping his ride (normally a beat-up Nova/Metro/Rover), decides to share his appalling taste in music (Hip Hop/Rave/Trance) with the innocent general public by driving his wreck round and round the block, windows down, and stereo on so loud it makes your ears bleed.

  9. Luis Ogando

    TIE Figher = Failed NCAP

    A TIE Fighter?? You do realise that these things have such rubbish life support that the pilots have to wear spacesuits to stay alive?? The things would never get an NCAP rating!!

    Better to use a highly modified Correllian YT-1300 freighter. Not anly can you imitate the sound of going point-5 beyond lightspeed, but the extra large radar dish will spot rozzers with more than enough time for you to hide your spice in the super-secret compartments.

    Mines the one with the Wookiee fur in the pocket..

  10. Nick

    Michael Stipe

    Didn't you run a story that silent electric cars should have ringtones to warn pedestrians?

    Oh, yes, there it is over 4 years ago:

    Can I have mine in Phantom Menace Pod Racer mode? And can I replace the horn sound with that of a laser blaster?

  11. Steven Raith
    Paris Hilton

    Old news?

    I might be wrong, but I swear on, er, something vaguely valuable, that Lotus have been refining this kit since at least the mid-nineties.

    Anyone else remember that, or is it just me?

    Anyway, I'll have a screaming Ford BDA on throttle bodies, or a Metro 6R4 in turbo'd Super Special ralllycross spec as my soundtracks, thanks. Although not on a G-wizz....

    Steven R

  12. JP Strauss

    I will be one of the first... delve into the internals of this system and replace the WAV file with one containing expletives. The one with the organic hemp C-precompiler woven into the lining.

  13. Yorkshirepudding

    a car that sounds like a tie fighter

    where do i sign! seriously!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I seem to recall...

    ...that this was debuted on Tomorrow's World at least a decade ago?

    PH because she never forgets her toys

  15. TeeCee Gold badge

    Lotus - noise cancellation.

    Old hat this. IIRC this debuted on the Esprit where, at the touch of a button, you could switch between calm, quiet and conversation friendly and sodding great turbocharged V8 a foot behind your head.

    The latter of these two settings had nothing to do with clever engine emulation technology built into the ICE system, but was produced as a side effect by the sodding great turbocharged V8 mounted a foot behind your head.

  16. Starace

    Old news

    I can remember Lotus announcing exactly the same technology a few years back, around 2000/2001 if I remember correctly.

    Even the intended application was the same.

    I was interested at the time as I'd completed development of pretty much exactly the same thing a year earlier.

    The problem for Lotus is that they probably aren't able to bring much to the table product wise, everything hardware and software wise about this is well known and openly available, and as a result all the usual OEMs would be perfectly able to churn out their own versions without Lotus seeing any benefit. Indeed it's already happened as this really isn't new stuff.

    Still, good to see they aren't turning down an opportunity for a press release.

  17. Anonymous John

    "who want their Tesla Roadster to sound like a TIE fighter."

    I'd like a leccy car that sounded like a Tardis.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    I'd have...

    the Pac-Man noise. Nom nom nom nom... That would make people get out of the way!

  19. Trevor Watt


    Can I get a fake dump valvle sound for my eCar too?

  20. Mark

    Engine noise through the stereo?

    I'd rip the stereo right out of any car I owned if it did that.

  21. Anonymous Coward


    The worst road users of all - as I cyclist i hate the fact that too many only look to see if it is clear if they have heard something before they step into into the road.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    OOOOH! :-)

    Can I opt for the extra sub-bass installation and the 200 hells angels riding into town effects pack please :-D

    Paris, cos even she'd have a headache after that :-)

  23. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Down

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    Most noise generated by a standard off-the-shelf car is from the wheels and other rotating gubbins, not the engine. This is more than enough to warn other road users of an approaching car. Generating extra sound is merely the preserve of boy racers (like with extra-large exhausts) who wish to warn other road users of the diminished size of their penises.

    And do you seriously think electric 'performance' car buyers will route the sound of a V8 through the external speakers? I think Crazy Frog or some horrific garage track is more likely.

  24. Sureo
    Thumb Down

    Oh the irony

    Finally they design a car that doesn't make a racket as it goes by and what do they do? Put a noise generator in it, of course. Sigh.

  25. GrahamT

    The only soundtrack for an electric vehicle...

    The whirr of the motors overlaid with the sound of milk bottles ratlling in their metal crates.

    Other oldies will know what I mean.

  26. Paul

    Can the add it to old lotuses

    to hid the noise of bits falling off and the squeek from your dash borde?

  27. Jeff
    Thumb Up

    I want a podracer!


    *jumps up and down shaking trident at lotus driver*

  28. Dan
    Thumb Up

    Ooh yes

    Cancel out:

    Tyre rumble

    Wind noise

    That funny wind noise that cabbages your ears above about 50mph.

    Leaving me with:

    Normal engine noise

    Nice whisper/whistle from the turbo

    Normal exhaust note

    That would sound awesome.

  29. Nick Woodruffe
    Thumb Up

    Use your eyes!

    As someone who has had the oportunity to drive the Mitsubishi MiEV around a busy town centre, far too many people rely too much on their hearing when crossing the road and not looking at all. It scares the living daylights out of them when you beep your horn from 3 foot away.

    Great head turner as you purr past with only the tyre noise to break the silence.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Darwin time

    If people can't be bothered to look before crossing the road then let Darwin take it's course!!! The amount of times as a cyclist I have had a pedestrian step out in front of me as they couldn't be bothered to look round... take 'em out of the gene pool!

  31. Thorsten

    @Ian Ferguson

    Tyre noise only dominates at speeds higher than about 30 km/h (higher for lorries). Take away the engine noise and you might not be able to hear the approaching car before it's too close. So such a system does make sense.

    Though I would like to see a law that forbids anything but some standard sounds. Penalty for uploading "Crazy Frog" or similar aural atrocities should be permanent loss of driving licence.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Let me get this straight...

    They're going to silence the cabins of petrol-driven cars, yet add fake engine noise to the cabins of e-cars? Now *that's* an incentive to go electric!

  33. Anonymous Coward

    I Want the "Gilbert Gottfried" Engine Noise

    "Hey! Stop Stepping On My Gas Pedal! I'm Going As Fast As I Can!"

    "JEEESUS CHRIST! Get Out Of the Way! You Think I'm Joking?!"

    "I'm Running Out Of Juice Heah! I Need To Find Me A Socket! Hey, Baby! You Think You Can Handle My Plug?"

    "What the HELL is WRONG With You People!? Can't You Hear this Goddamn Car?"

    "JEESUS CHRIST! This Guy Is NUTS! You'd Better Get Out Of His Way!"

  34. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    TIe fighter sounds - WTF?

    These things are designed to operate in space....mostly vacuum....with NO sound transmission capability. So they're going to be really, really quiet, right?

    "There's no news on whether the system can be tuned to cancel out the noise made by a couple of screaming kids in the back seats, though."

    Now honestly, my sprog were never allowed to do this in the back seat or anywhere else. Who in their right F-ing mind puts up with this?

  35. GumboKing

    Sounds like a TIE Fighter?

    So what does a TIE fighter sound like anyways? I couldn't tell when I last saw one, since there is no sound in a vacuum. </pedant>

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    For those thinking it's old news

    Yes, it is. Lotus managed to bring it out a while ago. I think it was some lowly Nissan - and no more. However, this new system is bigger, better, faster, stronger. Car hi-fis have improved and digital technology (as well as cheaper microphones, actuators etc) now means that an active control system is much easier and cheaper to install.

    Another thought on making electric cars noisy. The idea is to only have the sound projected low out of the front of the car only - so only those who need to hear it (i.e. in front) can hear it. This is unlike conventional engines which radiate sound in all directions out of the engine and exhaust.

  37. Andrew Kemp

    Of course TIE fighters make a sound...

    ...they push a wave of charged ions behind them which disrupts the flow around your ship, this in turn inducts eddys in the air stream of your cabin/cockpit which your ears sense as sound waves... :)

  38. raving angry loony


    Oh fuck. Ringtones for cars. Next think you know we'll get the annoying frog moving down the street at all hours of the night. "ringadingding ringadingding".

    Shoot me now.

    The whole point is that they are QUIET. Sound is a pollutant too, damnit.

  39. Anonymous Coward


    "RNC apparently deals with noise at frequencies below 250Hz..."

    As an American follower of politics, my experience is that the RNC does more to -create- a useless, distracting rumble than to eliminate it.

  40. Andy Beals
    Gates Horns


    I could have sworn this was done 10-15 years ago on a Le Car POS.

  41. Nicholas Ettel

    Sound like a TIE fighter?!

    "According to Lotus, “more futuristic sounds for electric vehicles can be created using sampled sounds and generated waveforms”, which will be handy for those who want their Tesla Roadster to sound like a TIE fighter."

    Sorry to burst all the nerdbubbles (and, yes, I'm fan of Star Wars, too), but there is no sound in space, therefore TIE fighters don't make a sound.

  42. Pete James


    I won't add to the number of posts already made concerning the amount of time this has been around. As said before, it's not strictly speaking new, just improved.

    But in respect of it's noise suppression capabilities it's a cheap fix really. Compared to doing the job properly it's a bit of a cheat.

    So expect it to be optional on loads of motors very soon!

  43. Tom
    Thumb Down

    e-fart can.

    So the kiddies can drive around in their crappy e-car with an over sized wing on the back, lots of stickers (for the wrong brand of car), go faster strips, and a e-fart can on the back.

  44. Adrian Esdaile

    It will take...

    about 17 seconds for someone to put the ucking fawful 'crazy frog' on it.

  45. Zen


    ...I'm off to rip the sound of a Tron lightcycle.

  46. Kevin Reader

    Probably Leccy Cars in Anderson's U.F.O.

    Remember when Cmdr. Striker used to drive into the TV company that was the cover for the head quarters, sis car used to go "Woosh". So it was probably another of Gerry's and Mr Medding's firsts along with forward facing wings, etc. Evidence on this website:

    And probably on ITV4 about now. Some days its like "Life on Mars" on that channel.

    Coat: Mine's the tight fitting one with too much use of Velcro.

  47. Graham Marsden

    I want...

    ... mine to sound like KITT from the original Knight Rider, complete with the scanner going "swoosh, swoosh"....

  48. relpy

    Noisy Damn TIe Fighters

    Tie fighters do make a noise. Just because you're sitting outside it and can't hear it isn't my problem.

  49. Mick Stranahan

    TIE Fighter

    little know fact the sound effect used in the films was apparently made by combining the call of an elephant with the sound of tyres on a wet pavement...

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