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Top 10 sound hacks for electric cars

Electric car makers are adding sounds to their vehicles to alert pedestrians of the silent-running car's presence. It's only a matter of time before these get hacked by inventive car owners and are used to pipe out personalized, more (shall we say) "interesting" sounds instead. Here's a list of the 10 best ideas we could come up with.


It's only recently that major manufacturers have gotten into making electric cars for the masses. Up to this point, it's mainly been the realm of small companies and garage tinkerers. These hackers have created some awesome EVs that ply the streets of the world in silence as their electrons flow through wires, emitting no tailpipe emissions.

Once the mainstream gets involved, however, so does government. Now, it's virtually mandatory that all electric vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Focus Electric have sounds that emit when driving in low-speed situations where hitting pedestrians may become likely. A lot of contention in the industry has been had over these sounds.

Not to worry. Don't like the spacey noises coming from your Volt? Not impressed by the goofy swooshing your Leaf makes? Have no fear, hackers are here!

Were we to hack our EV's external sound alert system, here's our top choices for sound replacements.

#10 - Bill & Ted on Guitar
Pedalludy Louiiieiiuuuu! Nothing is as bodacious as the air guitar sound from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. Gnarly.

#9 - The Jetsons' Family Car
Of course, every list of this type has to include the Jetsons. Pbbbbbbbbbbbbwwwwt.

#8 - Backfiring Jalopy
Obviously, if you're going to have an ultra-modern, futuristic electric car, then the ultimate irony would be if it sounds like a puttering jalopy. Am I right?

#7 - Nitro-Burning Funny Car
Or, even sweeter irony, if your silent future car were to sound like the loudest, most obnoxious petroleum-burning vehicle available.. like maybe a nitro-burning funny car? It's just fun to say. Nitro-burnin funny car.. use your deep voice with a lot of excitement. It makes for dramatic commercials. Note the gas mask in the background for this one:

#6 - WWII Aircraft
Looking to get a little more vintage? How about going with a warplane from World War II? That vintage enough for ya?

#5 - Tie-Fighter w/ R2D2
Sci-fi is where it's at with electric cars of the future. Right? So the obvious answer would be to include some Star Wars options, the coolest being the Tie-Fighter, which has the coolest sounds of any of the vehicles in the movie. Throw in some R2D2 so everyone knows what it is and you're good to go. Bet you didn't know the Terminator stole his line from Vader..

#4 - Star Trek Warp
Of course, for the more modern, grown up hacker nerd, Star Wars is too campy. So we give you.. Star Trek, which is much more grown up. Except maybe for the Tribbles. Take your pick from these and Engage!

#3 - Darth Vader
But wait.. Star Wars isn't down and out yet. It comes back with the ultimate in creepiness, sure to have all of those lame pedestrians backing away in fear.. Darth Vader.. breathing. Uoooo psssshht Uoooo pssshhht

#2 - Explosions
Obviously, if all that sci-fi crap is too nerdy for you, then you'll want something to make things a little more.. explosive. Bust out the ordinance and load up your EV with a whole theme song made entirely of explosions! Boooya!

#1 - The A-Team Theme
To really make your electric ride totally bad donkey, you'll need something extraordinary. So, from the greatest TV show of all time, I bring you the introduction that made television history and changed the world as we know it. I pity the fool that don't like the A-Team!

Special bonus! Don't forget the "adult themed film" music!

'Cause nothing says "classy EV" like some '70s swank. Ooooooh yeaaaaahhh.


NoAvatar (not verified)    April 7, 2012 - 10:42PM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I can't believe you forgot Kitt, the famed 70's car in Knight Rider driven by Mr Hasselhoff...

Definitely electric motor driven!

And the DeLorean DMC-12 from Back to the Future!

NoAvatar (not verified)    April 7, 2012 - 11:01PM

I can't believe you forgot Kitt, the famed 70's car driven by Mr Hasselhoff...

Definitely electric motor driven!

And the DeLorean DMC-12 from Back to the Future!

Aaron Turpen    April 8, 2012 - 12:46AM

In reply to by NoAvatar (not verified)

I was having a great day until you brought up Hasselhoff. oi. He's big in Europe, I hear. lol

The DeLorean in Back to the Future didn't make a specific noise, though. Nothing iconic. I did think about HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, but all he really said was "I'm sorry, Dave.."

Really, though, the list that could be created would be endless. I'm actually amazed that there haven't been stories of Leaf/Volt/etc owners hacking their cars yet.

Don Bain    January 8, 2013 - 12:35AM

In reply to by Aaron Turpen

If you're going use music...
rather than the exquisite tenor of an Aston Martin or a Bugatti, then I think you'll find the perfect audio phrasing from the early works of Pink Floyd, specifically Astronime Domine or Saucerful of Secrets from the two disc LP Ummagumma.