Reinventing how cars sound

in Technology Insight

The future of motoring has left vehicle manufacturers with a peculiar dilemma. Do they mimic the internal engine sound? Do they make cars sound like the whirring of the Jetsons? Or do they do nothing at all?

BMW has taken the artistic route in trying to arrive at a new “sound” for motoring. They’ve embarked on a unique collaboration with renowned and highly-regarded composer and sound designer Hans Zimmer.

“Every BMW has its own character, which is reflected in the sound it makes,” says film music creator and Academy Award winner Zimmer. “So for the electrically driven BMW M models we have developed a driving sound which accentuates their emotional driving experience particularly vividly and ensures their performance can be felt with even greater intensity.”

Zimmer had previously been involved in the development of an inspiring ready-to-drive sound for electrically powered BMWs which instils a sense of excitement at the prospect of electric driving when the Start/Stop button is pressed. The latest chapter in this collaboration covers drive sounds for the BMW iX and BMW i4, including a differentiated sound for the M-specification version of the BMW i4.

While the hush of electric driving offers an unprecedented level of comfort, the driving experience loses a degree of emotionality. This is where BMW IconicSounds Electric steps in to put smiles on the faces of customers keen to experience Sheer Driving Pleasure with all the senses. In the future, electric driving pleasure will be enhanced by acoustic feedback to every movement of the accelerator. Like the on-board driving modes selectable at the touch of a button, the driving sound also takes its cues from the driving situation at hand and the driver’s personal preferences. 

Renzo Vitale, Creative Director Sound at the BMW Group explains. “When you press the pedal of an M car, you suddenly get goosebumps all over your body … we translated this feeling into a drive sound that expresses a fusion of superior power and flowing energy.”

The new drive sounds developed as part of the collaboration with Hans Zimmer are expected to feature in the BMW i4 and BMW iX over the course of 2022. IconicSounds Electric comes as standard in the BMW iX and can be specified as an option for the BMW i4. In cars with earlier build dates, the new sounds can be imported retrospectively via Remote Software Upgrade, should the customer wish. The new spectrum includes one ready-to-drive sound and one stop sound, plus a driving sound which will be made available in the relevant version for BMW models and BMW M cars with electrified drive system.

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