Fake Engine Noise: Creating or Enhancing Engine Sounds

By Austin Morris 03/17/2023 12:00pm


Quick Facts About Enhanced Engine Noise

  • Many newer EVs come with artificial engine noise to mimic internal combustion
  • Amplified engine noise is used in some gas-powered vehicles to enhance sound from quieter engines
  • Vibrating seats to simulate the rumble of gas engines are on the drawing board

It’s widely known that electric cars are quiet, and some people say they’re too quiet. So, EV manufacturers turn to technology to create some artificial engine noise for electric car owners. Even some gas-powered cars have amplified engine noise pumped into the cabin to combat soundproofing and smaller engines in today’s vehicles.

While some car purists may be against fake engine noise, it’s the direction some of the biggest automakers are taking for their upcoming models. Keep reading to learn more about synthetic engine noise and whether it will enhance the sound of your next car.

What Is Enhanced Engine Noise?

Engine sound enhancement is synthetic or pre-recorded engine noise playing through a vehicle’s internal and external speakers. The technology uses powertrain data to simulate or amplify a car’s noise when driving and delivers the sound into the cabin. While it started out as a feature for gasoline-powered cars that are growing quieter, this fake engine noise is also used by electric vehicles because EVs produce little natural noise from the motors propelling them.

Systems to tune engine sounds have been around for years in gasoline-powered vehicles from car manufacturing giants. The BMW M5, Ford Mustang, and Acura TLX, to name a few, use an active noise control system, which plays pre-recorded engine noises through speakers.

Some EVs, including the Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model 3, use fake engine sounds to enhance the driving experience when you press the accelerator.

Why Electric Cars Use Fake Engine Noise

2022 Tesla Model Y in black, charging.

EVs use quiet battery-powered electric motors that don’t have the exhaust sounds produced by revving gasoline engines. Even with rapid acceleration on par with or faster than traditional muscle cars, EVs are nearly silent without fake engine noise. The artificial sound helps give drivers the feeling of driving a car with an engine that makes noise.

Most driving enthusiasts agree that being behind the wheel involves many senses. For many, part of the fun of going fast is the thrill of hearing an engine roar. An EVs synthetic engine noise gives drivers some — OK, a tiny bit — of the auditory sensation found in a roaring V8.

Kia and Hyundai are taking the simulation of an internal combustion engine a step further. The Korean automakers are exploring adding virtual engine vibrations to their electric cars to give owners an authentic driving experience. The vibrations will work with the amplified engine noise, so when the vehicle accelerates, the noise and vibrations get more intense.

What Sounds EVs Make

EVs don’t generate loud noise when cruising because the battery pack and electric motor don’t make audible noises like a gas engine. Some drivers say electric cars are too quiet. Others find the absence of sound soothing.

In fact, many newer cars, both gasoline- and battery-powered, have noise-canceling technology for the cabin. You may not even hear the friction of tires rolling on the pavement.

But while it may be desirable for some to have little to no noise heard inside the vehicle, safety calls for people outside to hear the car coming. That’s why EVs produce a synthetic whirring sound when driving at slow speeds. The fake engine noise warns passersby, pedestrians, and bicyclists that a nearby vehicle is in motion.

Do All EVs Have Fake Engine Sounds?

All newer EVs and plug-in hybrids make a hum, whir, beep, or chime sound to help warn playing children, joggers, and animals of an approaching car. Only some vehicles have artificial engine sounds to make them sound like a performance car.

Some muscle cars like the Dodge Challenger and Charger are facing discontinuation in favor of EV models, like this Dodge concept. Amplified engine noise is in the cards as an attempt to give EV drivers some of the auditory experience heard from gasoline engine exhaust pipes. Some enthusiasts appreciate it, while others dislike the artificial engine sound.

Of those vehicles that produce synthetic engine noise piped into the car’s audio system, a smaller number are customizable. Drivers might select an aggressive performance sound or a more subtle engine sound, depending on their preference.

Do You Need Amplified Engine Noise?

If you’re driving a newer gasoline vehicle or EV, chances are you already have amplified engine noise in your car. Drivers of cars with gas engines probably don’t even know that their vehicles might have this system. As for current or potential EV owners, artificial engine noise comes down to preference. You won’t need the fake engine noise if you prefer a quiet car ride and don’t care too much about the engine sounds.

However, if you’re more of a car enthusiast, artificial engine noise and vibration in an electric car might be welcoming. Nevertheless, chances are that you’ll have plenty of customization options as enhanced engine noise systems become more common.