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Lotus offers to end e-car silent running

A Tesla that sounds like a TIE Fighter, anyone?

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

'Leccy Tech 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 cars powered by good old internal combustion engines will be able to opt for the Road Noise Cancellation (RNC) and Engine Order Cancellation (EOC) systems, which use a car's stereo to generate a sound signal that cancels out the noise generated by road rumble and by the engine.

RNC apparently deals with noise at frequencies below 250Hz, while EOC is tuned to cancel out the frequencies associated with “ignition events”. The system takes readings from sensors in the engine bay, attached to the suspension and from microphones in the cabin and then uses clever software algorithms them work out the best way to cancel them all out. This all takes place in a few thousandths of a second so is constantly variable and, more importantly, has no effect on the hi-fi or on conversations being held between cabin occupants.

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.

Of more interest to e-car enthusiasts is the External Electronic Sound Synthesis system that uses speakers fixed to the front and rear of a vehicle to broadcast a speed-variable imitation of a car engine and thus hopefully reduce the number of pedestrians who simply step out in front of you because they didn't hear you coming.

True to its performance car heritage, Lotus suggests the sound of a flat-6 or V8 - the latter chosen by UK e-car maker Lightning, we recall.

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.

Taking things one step further is the Internal Electronic Sound Synthesis (IESS) system, which means e-car drivers can't claim a similar degree of aural ignorance when plod pulls them over for speeding. IESS once again uses the car's entertainment system but this time to replicate the sound of petrol-driven locomotion inside the vehicle cabin – a car's “sound DNA” as Lotus call it.

Lotus says that working systems are ready for “product implementation and manufacture” but made no comment regarding how soon – of even if - the system would make it onto the shelves at Halfords. ®

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