Car makers prototyping EVs with fake stick shifts and pretend engine sounds

Originally published at: Car makers prototyping EVs with fake stick shifts and pretend engine sounds | Boing Boing


Great! Nostalgia for noise pollution. Maybe they’ll have them fake roll coal as well to keep the far right happy.


Fake sticks and sounds are better than flat screen taps any day!


Wouldn’t it just be easier to create an over-the-counter penis enlargement pill and be done with all this other crap?


I wouldn’t mind an EV making some kind of noise at parking lot/residential speeds like under 15 mph, might prevent someone from stepping in front of one because they didn’t know it was approaching. Over that, then they should be silent - road noise should be enough for pedestrians to hear.
Cyclists may have a different opinion.


The only reason I didn’t get an EV last time around is that I :heart: driving a stick! I don’t know why, but there’s nothing quite like it.
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There are plenty of older home-brew electric conversions out there that actually make use of the manual transmission for optimal gearing. Something like 17 years ago I got to ride in someone’s electrified Karmann Ghia and he shifted several times.


I love my manual transmission, but I’m willing to give it up if a manufacture will make a well programmed sport mode in an EV. I don’t love rowing gears all the time, but I do love the control it brings. Give the driver the ability to tune all the subtle little aspects of the car and a good many of us would be happy.


They do. If you drive into someone in an EV at 20kph you shouldn’t be driving. If you can’t hear an EV at that speed the environment is very noisy. Most likely from cars driving faster. Unless changing gears you can’t tell the difference in a car going towards you between electric, petrol, or diesel above 30kph. The noise you can hear is tyre/road/wind.

Maybe they should beep like HGVs reversing. That is the only car noise that is a safety feature. They are soundproofed boxes. If noise was a safety feature they should remove the soundproofing. It isn’t. They don’t.


Since 2017 the regulation in the US is that they make a warning noise for pedestrians whenever reversing or when traveling forward at less than 30 kph. (Hey, an American regulation that’s based in the metric system, how about that!)


They’ve been doing the engine noise thing for years, even on gas-powered cars.


They are required to by law since 2016 (eta: @Otherbrother beat me to it). I’ve noticed the Mazdas sound like a tiny electric motor is about to throw a bearing.

I would appreciate a shifter that replicates the actual function of a manual (minus the stalling). Our Subarus have “sport shifting”, which allows you to up- or down-shift to get to a more appropriate gearing, which is handy in the Adirondacks or long hills as the car tends to want to stay in “4th gear”, when it really should downshift. Of course, it’s kind of weird in our newer one because it has a CVT and all “shifting” is artificial, anyway. Still, it’s a handy feature for certain circumstances.


The manual transmission on the Jeep is so that you can downshift and get more power when off-road and climbing up/over stuff, which is a perfectly cromulent use case.


I particularly enjoy the manual gearbox on my truck specifically for the low range when towing or 4x4’ing. Sitting in traffic though sucks.

a perfectly cromulent use of the word ‘cromulent’.


I get the manual transmission letting the driver match the difference engine performance at different RPMs with how those RPM translate to the wheel rotation speed at the other end of the gear box.

But, I’m missing what similar change would apply to an EV? It’s not like the electric motor performs different at different RPM.

With no transmission and just and electronics controlling how fast the wheels rotate based on the angle of the accelerator pedal. What am I missing?

The sport mode I’ve seen in a EV just changes the how fast rotation increases with smaller angles on the peal. Likewise, the one pedal driving mostly feels like a preference for how much braking should be applied by releasing the pedal.

Is there a more detailed adjustment that is desired?
Setting the entire angle to speed curve?
Perhaps in a non linear manner?

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If you can’t “fake slip the clutch” it ain’t worth it.


Yea, it’s kind of weird. And depending on the car, you can’t turn it off.
You can disable traction control, but you can’t get rid of the fake engine sound…


That’s a trope from “The Marching Morons” story by Cyril M. Kornbluth, that was the basis of the movie “Idiocracy”! In that story the idiotic citizens had cars that looked fast and sleek and made loud revving and engine noises, but couldn’t travel faster than 20 miles an hour.


For modern electric motors it doesn’t make much difference, but there is some difference. The first Telsa Roadsters had 2-speed transmissions for that reason.

Edit to add: the system described in the article is purely simulated though, with no actual changes to gearing. So yeah, it’s silly.


It’s artificial in that there are not really 5 or 6 distinct gears. But, it’s very real in the sense that it sets the CVT to a more targeted ratio. Particularly helpful if the base algorithms are trying for a ratio that end up too weak, or when you’re trying to use the engine to break. I notice our Subaru feels like it’s in different ratio ranges depending on the engine RPM. Presumably trying for the perfect match to maximize fuel usage.

On an EV though, without any gear ratio at all, it’s never to weak a ratio, just give it more electrons. There’s other ways to increase regenerative breaking that make more sense. Both the one pedal modes that break based on pedal angle or regenerative paddles, like a downshift only paddle shifter, are better ways to indicate more breaking then a fake downshift. I do wish the brake paddle on our car was variable for amount instead of just “on”.