Pop group U2 was hired by AMG to come up with a macho engine sound for the normally soundless electric motors of its supercar. But what they came up with wasn’t what AMG wanted.
The ultra high-performance, limited edition and extremely expensive SLS-based AMG Coupe Electric Drive makes all the right noises when it comes to getting to 100km/h in just two seconds - but makes only a muted whirring sound. AMG wanted an aggressive engine note - a difficult task given the sports car has no engines, just motors.
Head of powertrain, Fritz Eichler, says the car “sounds like a train’’. “It just whirrs,’’ he says. “So it now has special speakers to relay an artificial sound,’’ he says. “It may be possible for customers to have a choice of sounds.’’ The sound, which can be switched off, is only heard within the cabin but Mr Eichler says AMG is working on an exterior sound.
“We have to have an exterior sound by law,’’ he says, “to warn people of the car approaching.’’ “There are no rules about the external sound because nothing is yet legislated. Until then, we’ll only make the sound for the cabin.’’ When U2 failed, Mr Eichler took to the music panel himself. AMG now has a studio to create sound and thanks to its own staff and some advisors, now has the sound it wants.
“We achieved the new sound by breaking it down into smaller blocks and changing the phasing. It’s like a puzzle that you take apart and then put together in a different order.’’ Mr Eichler says the new sound is more like an internal combustion engine. “It’s based on the V12 engine. We have also the ability to change the note of the sound so the iver can tell, with his ears, that the batteries are losing their charge.’’
“We can also cancel some sounds we don’t want. For example, stones hitting the underbody of the car as it’s driving. We can apply counter-acting sounds to cancel out the stones.’’