Creative genius Hans Zimmer has accumulated a long list of awards and honors over the years for his work creating film score that was integral to the success of many movies. Now though, his career, which spans four decades, encompasses a new and largely unexplored auditory avenue; imagining the aural experience that should accompany electric vehicles. Many of us are aware of the growing number of regulations that say EVs, thanks to their lack of a combustion engine, must have some type of pedestrian warning system to alert bystanders of their presence. With BMW, however, Zimmer’s work is a bit different. Instead of sounds and audible signals to make the presence of the car known to those around it, he is creating the acoustic experience that will bring the next-generation driving experience full circle.
Ever found yourself walking down the narrow sidewalk of a posh beachside enclave only to hear the sound of a UFO, and then look up to see one of those orphaned Fisker Karma EVs with the solar roof? Okay, not everyone has, but the sounds emitted by the Fisker Karma are bizarre and noteworthy. Aside from the whine of one or multiple electric drive motors, which for some early EVs was quite loud, the cars are sorely lacking in the type of personality that was previously created by an exhaust. An inline-six sounds uniquely different than a V8, and the sound of a V8 is heavily varied depending on who made it, where that automaker originated from. BMW, an marque that perhaps focuses on the dynamics of the driving experience more than almost any other competitor, knows that something special must be done to ensure the vehicles of tomorrow are not as sterile and mute as some fear they could be.
A task such as this is best handled by an individual with an intimate understanding of sound, and how it can influence human emotion—even better if that person happens to be a BMW appreciator. This is the case with Hans Zimmer, who shared, “I have always been a BMW enthusiast. As a kid I used to recognise my mother coming home by the sound of her BMW.”
The project is called BMW IconicSounds Electric, and it’s merely the latest and greatest indicator of how the automaker prioritizes sound, and its role in the driving experience. This video is several years is old at this point, but it illustrates the painstaking lengths BMW goes to do everything from dreaming up the iDrive chime many of us have heard tens of thousands of times now, to dialing in the sound the suspension and tires make as they traverse a cobblestone street.
But with electric vehicles and hybrids, such as the BMW Vision M Next, rethinking the presence of the car is a completely different angle. Check out the launch film for BMW’s newest concept below, an attention-demanding clip with audio by Hans Zimmer. Then, turn up the volume, and click here to experience the sound of the Vision M Next for yourself. Welcome to the future.—Alex Tock
[Photos and video courtesy BMW AG.]