Movie composer Hans Zimmer creates sound for BMW’s electric cars

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With new safety legislation coming into effect, electric cars are required to emit an audible sound for pedestrians to hear. Not ones to do things by halves, BMW has enlisted Legendary Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer to create a soundtrack for its future electric vehicles.

Famous for his work on blockbuster movies such as The Dark Knight, Inception and Interstellar, Zimmer has worked with BMW to compose the sound for the BMW Vision M Next when the vehicle accelerates and decelerates. However, drivers won’t be accompanied by the same dramatic score heard in the movies, instead it can be described as a futuristic-sounding whir that builds to a feint musical crescendo.

“The development and composition for the sound of the Vision M NEXT was mainly inspired by light installations from James Turrell and Ólafur Elíasson. In particular, Turrell realized works known for the illusion of an infinite space, which creates a magical experience for the spectator. The idea behind the Vision M NEXT is to recreate this sense of wonder through sound,” said Renzo Vitale, acoustic engineer and sound designer at the BMW Group, who worked alongside Zimmer.

BMW Hans Zimmer

Hans Zimmer (L) and Renzo Vitale (R)

Unlike an ICE car that has its own distinctive soundtrack and engine note, many electric vehicles don’t have their own audio identity and have been criticized by owners for a feel of disconnect. BMW wanted to create a sound that is able to enhance the driving experience by creating more emotion through sound.

“When the driver interacts with the accelerator pedal it is not only a mechanical touchpoint but also a performative element. Accelerating becomes an experience during which the driver moves through a series of gradually morphing sound textures,” said Hans Zimmer.

“I have always been a BMW enthusiast. As a kid I used to recognize my mother coming home by the sound of her BMW. I am thrilled to get the chance to design the sound of future electric BMW’s and create emotion for the future electric driving experience.”

In 2009, with the introduction of the MINI E test fleet, acoustic engineers from the BMW Group were already working on artificially generated sound, which was intended to contribute to the better perceptibility of vehicles with barely audible drivetrains. Since the launch of the BMW i3, customers have therefore been able to choose acoustic pedestrian protection as optional equipment.

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