BMW executive rejects fake engine sounds, manual transmissions for electric cars

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A high-ranking BMW executive does not like the idea of an electric vehicle mimicking the sound of a petrol engine for the sake of it. 

German car giant BMW appears unlikely to follow Hyundai and other car makers in designing simulated petrol engine sounds – and fake manual transmissions or automatic gear shifts controlled by software – in its high-performance electric cars.

BMW Chief Technical Officer Frank Weber told media including US website InsideEVs the company is not concerned with making its electric vehicles have the sound and gear-shift feedback of petrol cars.

“Yeah, we can maybe emulate a [gear] stick, a digital stick,” Mr Weber said when asked by InsideEVs about plans for fake shifts – by briefly pausing the power of the electric motor to simulate a gear change – and petrol engine-esque engine sound.

“[But] to emulate that you have fixed gears and you shift them, probably we can do [it] in the afternoon after we’re done with the other things. You will be surprised how different vehicles drive when you see the next generation.”

In contrast to BMW’s stance, Hyundai’s high-performance N division is among the biggest supporters of faux petrol-car sounds and gear shifts in electric vehicles.

The new Hyundai Ioniq 5 N allows drivers to simulate the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission in the company’s petrol N cars, and offers three simulated engine sounds, including one designed to mimic the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine in the i30 N hot hatch.

While BMW is not interested in simulating petrol-car sounds in electric vehicles, its battery-powered vehicles do have artificial driving sounds composed by famous film music composer Hans Zimmer.

Unlike the Dodge, electric cars from BMW do not play artificial driving sounds through an external speaker – and only emit them inside the car.

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