GM has created unique soundtracks for each of its electric vehicles, using sound design to find the perfect tone for each model.
Jay Kapadia is GM’s Creative Sound Director. He is a classically trained musician and electronics engineer that uses his expertise to develop advanced sound design for the automaker, becoming GM’s first-ever lead sound designer in 2017. He was tapped to create soundtracks for each of GM’s existing and forthcoming EVs, and finds his muse in the personality of each vehicle.
For example, the GMC Hummer EV has a unique soundtrack when Watts To Freedom (WTF) mode is activated, playing a deep drone that swells with power in time with the speed and power of the electric pickup and SUV. This sound is choreographed with a visual LED display on the dash, giving the driver a sense of building torque and power as it accelerates in the absence of the traditional ICE sound. Kapadia worked alongside noise and vibration engineers to find the perfect note.
The Cadillac Lyriq, on the other hand, has a soundtrack that creates less of a visceral feeling of speed, and instead focuses on creating an ambience of luxury and comfort. These sounds are relayed through the Lyriq’s speakers, enhancing the futuristic and luxurious feel of the EV’s interior.
Additionally, sound and vibration engineers were tasked with creating safety sounds. Electric vehicles are mostly silent at lower speeds, prompting government agencies to implement acoustic vehicle alert systems (AVAS), which play a sound through the vehicle’s external speakers to help pedestrians identify where an EV is at low speeds. The Hummer EV emits a synthesized chord at low speeds, while the Lyriq plays an ethereal drone to alert pedestrians to its location.
“Sound design and sound engineering is really a fusion of regulatory needs and artistic design,” said Doug Moore, a Global Regulatory Sound and Vibration Engineer for GM. “We want purposeful and pleasing exterior sound and a relaxing experience for customers in the interior. It all comes down to making our EVs safe and enjoyable.”
You can preview these sounds at GM’s Soundtrack Your Drive website, which can be found here.