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AMG signature sound "very important" for electric era, says boss

If you were hoping that EVs would silence AMGs, prepare to be disappointed.

As AMG prepares to expand into the world of electrified models, the Mercedes performance brand is hell bent on bringing its trademark aural excitement with it.

Mercedes global boss Ola Källenius announced plans for a variety of electrified AMG models at the Frankfurt motor show today, ranging from performance hybrid to fully electric drivetrain layouts. 

Shortly after, AMG boss Tobias Moers explained to Australian media that the electrified models will need to carry on all key AMG performance characteristics, including what’s to date been described as a  raucous exhaust note, even if there won’t necessarily be a snarling V8 or highly strung turbo four under the bonnet. 

“It’s very important for our sound. You have to establish a kind of easy to identify AMG sound in the world of electric driving.”

It won’t pretend to be a V8 or turbo four though, and nor will it sound like a Star Wars Pod Racer even though it’s proven to be technically possible.

“It could sound like a V8, but this feels very strange. That’s stupid, it feels strange. You can do like a Pod Racer. We did that. We’ve been on that journey since two years now. Together with various partners and a lot of influence from outside. It’s kind of a filter function what we established,” he added. 

But even though the first electrified AMG is due to appear by the end of 2020 in the form of a plug-in hybrid version of the GT 4-Door, the electric sound signature still isn’t finalised.

“I meet my guys, my team working on that once a month, and we discuss about the progress and where to move.”

Mr Moers explained that it’s important for the sound to be triggered by actual mechanical pulses, rather than a completely synthetic noise. 

“Let me take the (new) A 45 as an example. So for sure it’s not all natural what you’re going to hear in that car. Regulations are coming up they’re more important everywhere in the world. They’re getting more and more ambitious. So in an A 45 for example we measure the frequency and the pulsation in the exhaust system. There’s a sender in the exhaust system that’s an input for a control unit and then the control unit transfers that into the interior. We use the speakers, but I’ve driven that car now for two months, and if you put it in Sport Plus or Race (drive modes) it sounds, REALLY cool.”

“So long everything you can hear feels natural to that what you apply to the car regarding throttle and you push the throttle, the sound behaviour is totally in line with that. It feels totally natural.”

I’m no music expert, but the A 45 approach seems akin to the distinction between acoustic and electric guitars, and the latter have proven to be somewhat popular since their inception. The right inputs are still critical to success though, and so it is with electric motors according to Mr Moers. 

“You can filter, you can pull out frequency, you make them a little more dominant, there’s many things to do.” 

Mr Moers did offer one hint at the tone of the noise likely to reach production, however.

“If you have a high power car with a lot of torque you’re going to end up with low frequency, because that feels more powerful than a Pod Racer.”

Electric motors have high power and a lot of torque by definition, so start imagining the sound of a low frequency AMG electric note ladies and gents.

Asked whether the sound will be adjustable to suit user preferences, Mr Moers suggested that all the above and more could be on the table.  

“The possibility is always there. Even the possibility gives you maybe the chance to upload your personal sound.”

As tempting as it might be to upload personal sounds to be broadcast to passers by, it won’t necessarily sound the same on the outside as it does inside the cabin. 

“There are requirements regarding authorities that you have an outside sound. You know it could be different (on the inside). Not necessarily the same.”