Home » Dodge Might Put Vibrators Into Electric Cars To Make Them Rumble Like V8s. Here’s How It Would Work

Dodge Might Put Vibrators Into Electric Cars To Make Them Rumble Like V8s. Here’s How It Would Work

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Much of what fuels the EV debate is the trade-offs inherent in any emerging technology. Issues like range, charging speed, and infrastructure problems are the topics brought up over and over in this occasionally exhausting conversation. These have been the main focus for automakers in their arms race to make EVs as convenient to own as gas-powered cars. While companies work tirelessly to close the gap on these shortcomings, many are missing a key facet of car ownership that will leave gearheads in the cold if it isn’t addressed: the driving experience.

I can attest to this, having driven a variety of EV’s. Most models deliver brutal acceleration that few gas cars can match, but after you floor it a couple times (and give your stomach a chance to settle down), everyday driving feels pretty anonymous. If I ignore the interior and just focus on the driving sensations there isn’t a huge difference between a Mach-E, an EV6, or a Model 3. It’s a bit like riding in a high speed train. The speed that scenery flies by your window is thrilling at first, but after that wears off it’s just quiet, efficient transportation. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it won’t warm the cockles of a gearhead’s heart.

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A lot of this is because most EV’s offer a detached driving experience. There’s no engine, flooding the cabin with the sounds and vibrations we all love. Steering and pedal inputs are by wire or electronically assisted removing another source of tactile feedback. The lack of transmissions eliminate the feel of the engine going through the gears. With regenerative braking you don’t even need to use the brake pedal most of the time. If you are a luxury car buyer, this type of experience is desirable, but not everyone wants to commute in an isolated pod. There is a huge opportunity for automakers to differentiate themselves. Thankfully one automaker is doing just that.

Recently uncovered by MoparInsiders.com,  Stellantis (well, FCA U.S. LLC — the patent filing is a few years old)filed a patent with the World Intellectual Property Organization for a system called the Active Vehicle Enhancement System (AVE), which uses force generators to fill the vehicle’s cabin with the vibrations typically generated by a gas engine. This would work in tandem with an Active Sound Enhancement (ASE) system playing engine noise through the speakers, and the Exhaust Sound Enhancement (ESE) system. The goal, besides inventing a bunch of new TLAs the industry loves so much (Three Letter Acronyms), is to mimic the visceral feeling you get wheeling a gas car. This is a big deal, and something currently absent in the current crop of EVs. Let’s see what they have to say in the patent:

Battery electric vehicles (BEV’s) may provide a greener alternative to vehicles with combustion engines. However, BEV’s can emit very low noise levels… Known solutions include creating electronic noises through external speakers on a vehicle. However, these systems do not produce an authentic engine sound nor are they as loud as a high-performance vehicle. Additionally, vehicles that have traditionally been considered “muscle cars” or “high performance” may no longer have a characteristic sound emitted through their exhaust systems. Further still, in vehicles with the known systems, the sound can feel unnatural due to lack of tactile feedback experienced with vehicles having internal combustion engines. Thus, while current systems work well for their intended purpose, it is desirable to provide continuous improvement in the relevant art.

The patent goes into detail on how the ASE system will work concurrently with the Engine Sound Enhancement system and Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust  to mimic the full sensory experience an ICE vehicle provides. The control scheme telling everything what to do is similar to the active sound enhancement systems that pipe artificial engine noise through the speakers. Data from pedal position, wheel speed, and electric motor torque sensors are fed into a controller that works with the CAN system to play continuously changing, sample based .wav files to match the vibro-acoustic output of a gas motor in your current driving situation. The patent mentions playing startup and shutdown sounds along with the ability to choose different vehicle profiles, which is pretty cool. You can get the experience of driving some futuristic Jetsons-mobile one day, a 69 Charger the next, and if we are lucky, an 80’s Omni GLH or a 76 Aspen! Imagine going to work in a Hellcat then driving home to the sounds of a roided out Neon SRT4, sounds pretty fun right?

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Schematic for the Active Vibration Enhancement, Active Sound Enhancement, and Exhaust Sound Enhancement system. Source: WIPO

 

The drawing below shows the mounting scheme of the actuators to the frame of the car. The patent describes these as a rare earth magnet surrounded by an electromagnetic field generator (copper winding), which is basically a speaker without the cone. These transmit vibrations directly to the chassis. The vibration output would be tuned to the vehicle to amplify certain resonance frequencies and reduce others. The controller splits the engine sound signal into different frequency ranges that make sense for the shakers, the speaker system and the exhaust. With this setup you’ll be able to feel the vibrations through the seats, pedals, steering wheel, and armrest. Combined with the engine noise playing through the interior speakers and out the exhaust, it should be an immersive setup.

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Mounting Scheme for the Shakers. Source: WIPO

Figure 3 below shows the exhaust system, which uses woofers and mid range speakers played into tuned chambers to blast noise out of the exhaust tips. This is a similar concept to Borla’s Active Performance Sound system they released for EV’s last year.

 

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Patentexhaust
Exhaust Sound Enhancement System. Image Source: WIPO

If anyone would develop this technology, it would be Stellantis. The company has been working on its next generation Dodge Charger, which will have at least one version that is fully electric. For a company that’s made its bread and butter stuffing larger and larger Hemi V8s into their cars, they’ll need to do something to retain that enthusiast customer base. With this sound and vibration package, their eRupt electro-mechanical multi-speed transmission, and the blistering acceleration we’ve come to expect from electric vehicles, they’ll have a compelling vehicle that will hopefully retain many of their gearhead fans, while standing out from other EV’s on the market.

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Dodge Charger Daytona concept. Image Source: Stellantis

Of course there will be a segment of gearheads that will poo-poo any type of artificial enhancements to the driving experience. The type of folks who only listen to their classic rock on vinyl through a tube amp and some Cerwin Vegas because that’s how it’s “meant to be listened to.” And I get it. I was a little skeptical of active sound enhancement systems at first, thinking they were corny. But my current vehicle has this feature and I’ve grown to like it. It’s better than hearing no engine noise, or having the car’s sound package so compromised you get tons of road and wind noise along with the notes from the engine. Odds are, many of these people have no problem with cars with questionably functional aero or decorative air vents because, hey it looks cool. I bet a lot of those people will get on board after some seat time and tire smoking hoonage.

I haven’t experienced this exact type of system, but I’m well acquainted with something similar, NVH simulators. These are very expensive, highly tuned driving simulators that automakers use for things such as jury evaluations (think focus groups), virtual part swaps, and NVH testing. They aren’t built for having fun, they’re designed to replicate the sound and vibration sensory experience as accurately as possible in multiple driving scenarios.

The setup is similar, with actuators attached to the frame, pedals, and steering column, sending vibrations through all the touch points, as well as an array of speakers and the curved screen. These shakers simulate the vibrations from the powertrain, different road surfaces, even speed bumps. The sensations paired with the sounds felt so real it was eerie. If Dodge can get this system a fraction as accurate as what I’ve experienced, with the option to switch sound and vibration profiles on the fly, this car will be a hoot to drive. In the end, that’s all gearheads are looking for and should be worth celebrating.

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MushroomGlue
MushroomGlue
1 month ago

Rather than fakery, why not embrace the whine of straight cut gearing? if you used a 2-speed transmission (like the Porsche Taycan), you could use straight cut gearing in first gear (more likely used for spirited driving), then a helical 2nd gear to bring the noise down for motorway cruising.

Eslader
Eslader
1 month ago

I mean, half of the fun of an electric car is that you’re accelerating like a rocket with just a little low-volume humming sound. They sound like the future.

What if the last major transportation revolution had involved such twisting around to keep remnants of the power source? “This year’s model-T will have a faux-horseshit dispenser so you still feel like you’re driving a buggy!”

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
1 month ago
Reply to  Eslader

They did! There were faux horse heads you could attach to your car, I believe the excuse was to avoid spooking the horses it shared the road with. I, for one, would be horrified to see a palanquin moving around under its own power, and the only thing that could comfort me in such a situation is if it had a disembodied human head attached to the front of it.

Rafael
Rafael
1 month ago

I’m not sure how I feel about electric cars cosplaying as ICE. Would I like additives that make my sushi taste like a burger? I might as well order a burger.
I think embracing the real experience is preferable, instead of faking the by-products of an engine that isn’t there anymore. But to each, their own – good thing this is optional.

Cayde-6
Cayde-6
1 month ago

All of this sounds SO. SO. SO. stupid. Anyone who wants a loud, rumbly car can just get someone to sit in the passenger seat and re-enact that South Park Harley-Davidson guy.

Uberscrub
Uberscrub
1 month ago

If this is more background and enhances the feel of connection to the vehicle-sure. If it just sounds like a hellcat – hell no.

Millermatic
Millermatic
1 month ago

Chat GTP. Touch screen “buttons” to control where my air vent is pointing. And now “vibrators.” I don’t want any of this crap. Nor do I want to pay for it. Whatever happened to simplicity?

Last edited 1 month ago by Millermatic
Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
1 month ago

I understand the take here, but the engagement you get with engine noises and vibrations comes from the same place as the engagement of a great steering rack or shifter: The fact that your mechanical components are making themselves known.

If you want to add engagement to a BEV, you need to create engaging components.The only way to make a BEV into a better driver’s car is to provide great control surfaces, with a communicative steering rack and brake pedal and a razor-sharp accelerator response.

That third item is one where EV’s have the potential to entirely outperform their gas predecessors, so I’d strongly advise shipping any performance EV with a “direct” driving mode where pedal position has direct correlation to watts through the motor(s) on an unchanging curve (X pedal position always equals Y power), and optimize the process for response time. Set a fixed ratio of power between the axles in that mode and watch as journalists the world over worship your new vehicle.

If manufacturers are dead set on giving us noises, then just use a 2-speed gearbox with a straight-cut (or close to straight) first that engages at low speed and/or hard acceleration. It’s a real mechanical device that changes pitch with speed, gets louder under torque and even improves efficiency around town. You don’t need a clutch or even synchros, since electric motors can precisely match speeds on an unsynchronized gearbox. A company could even calculate the exact tooth size and count that gives them the best sound range. In comfort/economy mode the vehicle could just stay in high gear and you’d never know it could be loud.

Good brakes and steering are things that companies have no excuse not to have figured out by now, Toyota’s been making the same EPAS systems everyone else sources feel great for a while now, and there’s never been a good reason for brakes on a performance car to feel anything but amazing.

JDE
JDE
1 month ago

Damn it, stop….don’t add weight for stupid stuff. embrace the suck and just make these things outrun a Tesla Plaid. Style things as good as the New Charger and make sure they are reliable and include AWD and Hybrid options for now and let the public accept the fact that while fast, there is nothing that can be done to make the new vehicles as viscerally interesting to the current generation of Hemi lovers. But catering to them seems like a losing battle, that might just blow up in their face in the end anyway.

Scruffinater
Scruffinater
1 month ago

First off, EVs do have their own *natural* electric motor/inverter/gearbox sounds which I appreciate and find endearing in their own way. They’re not loud, but they are readily apparent, and frankly most ICE vehicles are similarly quiet these days, and that’s a good thing. Noise pollution is lame, just like any form of artificial engine noise. If a manufacture wants to physically tune their engine/exhaust for a particular sound I am all for it. But adding sound that does not originate from necessary drivetrain components is stupid and always has been.

EVs should be appreciated for what they are, not by trying to make them just like ICE vehicles. Because even a high performance EV is pretty quiet and vibration free, you get to hear and feel things that you’d never notice in a high performance ICE because they are overwhelmed by engine noise and vibration. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some high performance ICE noises and vibrations (in moderation), but forcing an EV to do that is a waste. I am sure NVH engineers can come up with better things to do, and it’s not like EVs need extra components and tech geegaws to make them heavier and more expensive.

Jj
Jj
1 month ago
Reply to  Scruffinater

“EVs should be appreciated for what they are, not by trying to make them just like ICE vehicles.”

We’re dealing with current Dodge buyers right now. They’re confused by touch screens. Flashing lights upset them to the point of violence. Change makes them hide in a dark closet and rock. You don’t want to overwhelm them.

It would be best to have a $12,000 sticker package available when this launches to ease their transition.

Scruffinater
Scruffinater
1 month ago
Reply to  Jj

Shoot, I do love me some silly sticker packages, mainly on other people’s vehicles, but still… I think you’re on to something there!

Jdoubledub
Jdoubledub
1 month ago
Reply to  Scruffinater

I love pegging the throttle on my Zero DSR. Thing sounds like the freaking Tumbler from Batman and makes me smile.

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
1 month ago
Reply to  Scruffinater

This. If you want noise, just put the inverter in the cabin or use straight-cut gears. You could even have a housing around the inverter with a flap that opens and closes a window in the sound deadening, a la valved exhaust, and use a 2-speed gearbox like the Taycan with a loud 1st/lo/sport and quiet 2nd/hi/comfort.

Moonball96
Moonball96
1 month ago

This is not unlike those people that glued fake horse heads to the front of their horse-less carriages around the turn of the century…

Isis
Isis
1 month ago

Put playing cards in the wheel spokes

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