Can electric sports cars be sporty without any engine noise?

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Electric cars are the future. Thanks to emissions restrictions and fuel efficiency requirements, plus the ease of using renewable energy to power an electric car means nearly every manufacturer will need to embrace it sooner or later.

One of those manufacturers is Porsche, which is working on the Mission E electric sports sedan. And that means the company’s engineers have an interesting problem. Porsche makes sports cars (or sports SUVs), and those cars all have a wonderful engine note. It’s something that is truly iconic to the brand.

Porsche customers told the company “we like the growl of your engines, and we expect something similar for an electric,” said the head of the Mission E project, Stefan Weckbach, according to Bloomberg. However, an electric car doesn’t have much of a engine sound — instead, drivers can hear a lot of wind and tire noise, as well as a bunch of little squeaks and rattles that are usually covered up by the noisy engine.

And that’s a problem that every carmaker that hopes to build an electric sports car is dealing with. Fiat Chrysler engineering boss Roberto Fedeli said that the sound of an engine is “one of [Maserati’s] most important parameters” and is a major concern for the electric sports sedan the company is building. McLaren too, is working to keep customers entertained while driving without an engine note.

Not only does a noisy engine give a visceral thrill, knowing that there are thousands of tiny explosions happening to keep you going, but it just sounds awesome. It would be a shame to lose it, and carmakers know it. Bloomberg says Porsche has been looking at artificially inserting noise into the cabin, perhaps via the stereo like some other manufacturers have done, or amplifying the high-pitched hum of the electric motor.

I don’t know what the answer is, but a world without the roar of a Dodge Challenger Hellcat is a world that’s just a little less fun.



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