Insights that Echo Beyond the Echo Chamber


Mercedes-AMG, will.i.am Team Up To Make EVs Make Music

Car enthusiasts have spent decades likening the sound of engines to music. Driven hard, the pitch changes of a car shifting through its paces make a heart-racing soundtrack … see, we just did it again. It’s hard to avoid.

But the automotive industry is going electric. Electric cars produce very little sound.

What can automakers do to evoke the body’s emotional response to the sounds of acceleration and braking?

Call Grammy winners, it turns out.

Mercedes-AMG used last week’s CES consumer electronics show to reveal a musical soundscape for its future electric cars.

The company worked with Grammy winner will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas to develop what it calls “a groundbreaking interactive musical experience” for its electric vehicles (EVs).

The system — Mercedes-AMG calls it MBUX Sound Drive — “uses software that allows music to react to the way the car is being driven, creating a harmonious relationship between motion and melody,” the company says. “This turns the car into a virtual musical instrument.”

BMW, Porsche Have Similar Projects

It’s not groundbreaking — BMW and Porsche developed similar systems previously.

Porsche’s Soundtrack My Life system isn’t available for purchase yet. But the company revealed testing versions more than two years ago. Mercedes’ project seems to follow the same principle.

BMW also worked with a Grammy-winner — soundtrack legend Hans Zimmer — to craft the changing sounds its fleet of EVs make. BMW’s aural experience is more sci-fi and less music but still evolves in response to your driving style.

Though it might not be as original as Mercedes-AMG suggests, MBUX Sound Drive is still a cool idea. And it will have one unique feature — the company may let other artists add to it over time.

“Artists from around the world will be able to create tracks, representing any music genre, in a new immersive audio format using MBUX Sound Drive studio software,” the brand explains. So if will.i.am’s vision doesn’t match your tastes, you could someday download alternative soundtracks created by dozens of different artists.

The company says the system will be available “globally from mid-2024.” The company says any Mercedes EV using the second-generation MBUX user interface will be able to download it.


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