As interest in Formula E continues to grow there is one question on the lips of every commentator and every sports enthusiast, should engine noise be added to Formula E cars?
If we take a step back and look at the situation, the fact is that while technological advances in the Formula E teams will be unaffected whether engine noises are added to the vehicles or not, this is to all intents and purposes a spectator sport. One of the main elements of Formula One is the fact that the atmosphere, the adrenaline rush which comes with watching highly skilled drivers hitting speeds of 200 mph is accompanied by some of the most “beautiful” engine noises. However, would adding engine noise to Formula E cars be a sell-out by the sport?
Is noise really everything?
Whether we like it or not, there is no doubt that the rush of adrenaline created by a high tech sports car hitting phenomenal speeds can scramble your brain. You imagine that you are sitting in the car, you are driving at breakneck speeds and you are literally putting your life on the edge every time you step into the vehicle. The fact is that an electric sports car able to do 200 mph would not, in any way, shape or form, give you the same adrenaline rush if the engine was “silent”.
The sport of driving has always been accompanied by the roar of the engines, the squeal of the wheels and the ability of these highly skilled sportspeople to keep their vehicles on the tarmac.
Different engine noises for different teams?
The are some weird and wonderful suggestions being put forward for Formula E engines with some people even openly discussing different engine noises for different teams. While this would seem to be a potential consideration in the longer term, allowing you to differentiate between different teams before you actually see their team colours, would that not spoil the fun?
How many times have you watched Formula One, either on the track or on TV, with drivers going toe to toe around corners? Part of the fun and attraction of Formula One is guessing which car is coming towards you and which team they belong to. If you can distinguish who is at the front of the pack before you see them, because their team noise is the first one you hear, surely that takes away some of the excitement associated with the industry?
Electric cars in general use
The idea of introducing engine noises into the modern day Formula E car is something which is likely to be waved through by the sport’s governing body. However, the situation in the public domain is very different with an ongoing spat between US electric car manufacturers and the US government with regards to engine noise and the safety of pedestrians.
While publicly electric car manufacturers will argue there is no need for artificial engine noises to be added the fact is that, in private, many have already accepted this will happen. There is an ongoing discussion between various parties as to what speed these artificial noises should fade and be replaced by “traditional electric car engine noises”.
The government is currently at the higher end of the 12 mph to 17 mph range and the electric car manufacturers are at the lower end. There will likely be some kind of compromise and a general standard reached for the US electric car industry which will likely be adopted around the world. In the world of car technology, the US often leads with everybody else following!
The idea of introducing “fake” engine noises to Formula E and general use electric cars do is initially seem to go against the grain. However, for very different reasons it seems almost inevitable that we will see the introduction of “manufactured” engine noises in the not too distant future.
In reality, could you imagine Formula 1 without the roar of the engines?