Those who expect to hear cars when they zip by them while they're walking might be surprised when one of the new quiet cars ride by. Automakers are beginning to give silent cars a new meaning by using technology to hide the bad sounds of vehicles and enhance the good sounds.
According to the Detroit Free Press, auto engineers are now beginning to manipulate vehicle sounds, which they say will add to a perception of quality and harmony.
Chuck Gray, chief powertrain engineer on Ford's electric vehicles, said the aim of the automaker isn't to trick the customer, but to give them the best experience when they drive in a Ford vehicle.
The new technology works similarly to headphones, eliminating side noises and allowing the driver to enjoy the quality of the vehicle. Luxury automakers have previously used the car-quieting technology, but it's now trickling down to the mainstream models.
The 2013 Honda Accord has the new technology installed and has the goal of making the cabin as quiet as possible, using microphones to pick up engine, wind and road noise that are often distractions when driving. The computer then produces indistinguishable sounds that project back in the vehicle through four speakers, reducing or canceling the unwanted sounds, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Chris Martin, Honda spokesman, reported that active noise cancelation works to get rid of noises that customers don't want to hear.
Automakers are also looking to enhance good sounds, which is technology already installed in the new BMW M5 and M6. Some automakers allow drivers to tune the sound to their preference, such as the 2012 Porsche 911 sports car, which has a button that opens the exhaust sound to a much louder sound.
Ford added the noise cancelation to its Lincoln luxury cars, including the MKS large sedan and the 2013 MKZ sedan.
Ford also recently announced that it's planning to cut hundreds of jobs in Europe as a result of sales decreasing in the region, which could affect the performance of vehicles.
“Our goal is to adapt the production to the shrinking demand,” Ute Mundolf, a spokeswoman at Ford in Germany, said in a telephone interview with Businessweek.