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Electric motorcycles made and designed in Singapore set to rev up Southeast Asia

By | General Posts

by Zhaki Abdullah from https://www.channelnewsasia.com

SINGAPORE: Although the COVID-19 pandemic had affected their initial plans, two Singapore-based start-ups are still set on revving up efforts to produce their own electric motorbikes.

This comes as Singapore relaxed its rules on electric motorcycles in April, allowing high-powered motorbikes with power ratings of more than 10kW to be on the roads as part of efforts to encourage the adoption of cleaner vehicles.

The coronavirus outbreak has caused “little hiccups” in its supply chain, said Scorpio Electric’s acting head of operations Muhammad Taureza.

But the brand remains on track to roll out its zero-emission, fully electric smart motorcycles, with no “appreciable delay”, he said, adding that it aims to do so by the middle of this year, or as soon as the COVID-19 situation stabilises.

Scorpio Electric is a brand under Singapore-based EuroSports Technologies, which is backed by SGX-listed EuroSports Global.

Since March, Scorpio Electric has expanded its premises at Teban Gardens to 7,000 sq m. The space includes offices and showrooms, as well as 4,000 sq m dedicated to a factory and warehouse.

This facility is expected to produce about 8,000 electric motorcycles a year, said Dr Taureza.

Although the components will be manufactured elsewhere, Scorpio Electric’s bikes will be assembled at its Singapore location, he added.

Scorpio Electric chief technology officer Tham Kwang Sheun noted that making its motorcycles “smart”, with the use of artificial intelligence and data analytics, will allow them to be even more energy efficient.

“That means that when you get on, the bike will actually have the intelligence to tell you how can you better plan your trips, and how much fuel consumption you’re going to use, accounting for operating conditions,” he explained.

The aim is also for Scorpio Electric to extend this environmental sustainability to its production line, said Mr Tham, noting some of the materials used in the making of motorcycles can be substituted by “bio-derived” materials with “some recyclability”.

The switch to electric motorcycles is “very promising” in terms of reducing carbon emissions in the region, said Mr Tham, who was previously with the Land Transport Authority as the head of its autonomous vehicle programme office.

Motorcycles in Southeast Asia are “typically lagging behind the curve in emissions standards”, said James Chan, co-founder and chief executive of Ion Mobility, which is headquartered in Singapore.

The firm’s other co-founder, Joel Chang, was previously with Scorpio Electric as its chief operating officer before he formed Ion Mobility last year.

“In Singapore, ICE (internal combustion engine) motorcycles are on Euro 4 standards, while Indonesia is still on Euro 3,” noted Mr Chan, referring to the emissions standard introduced by the European Union. The latest standard for motorcycles in Europe is Euro 5, which came into effect this year.

Motorcycles may seem to have better fuel efficiency, but on average, they produce twice as much carbon dioxide per passenger-kilometre over their life cycles when compared to cars, said Mr Chan.

In addition, particulate matter (PM2.5) from motorcycle emissions is taken into consideration due to the sheer number of motorcycles on the roads in the region, he explained, noting that PM2.5 is one of the largest “air pollution culprits” to health costs and premature deaths in Southeast Asia.

Ion Mobility’s electric motorcycles would produce zero tailpipe emissions and play “a big part” in reducing PM2.5 and greenhouse gas emissions produced, added Mr Chan.

Southeast Asia is the world’s third largest market for motorcycles after India and China, he noted, adding that there are currently more than 200 million ICE motorcycles across Southeast Asia.

The company had originally aimed to offer test rides and launch pre-orders for its Model 1 electric motorcycles in Jakarta by the third quarter of 2020, although it had to go back to the drawing board because of COVID-19.

“We aim to launch our Model 1 in Indonesia by early 2021 or sooner, COVID-19 permitting,” said Mr Chan.

Apart from its headquarters here – which will serve as a regional centre for design as well as research and development – Ion Mobility also has offices in Jakarta and Guangzhou. Mr Chan said the company is focused on becoming the top electric motorcycle company in Southeast Asia.

It aims to begin with Indonesia, where 6.5 million new ICE motorcycles were sold in 2019, aiming to claim 1 per cent of the Indonesian market within its first two years of sales.

Scorpio Electric, meanwhile, aims to be a “global brand”, said Dr Taureza.

“We want to be in the same ranks as Apple and Tesla,” he said, although he noted that this needs to be done one step at a time.

As a “homegrown Singapore brand”, Scorpio Electric’s first priority is the Southeast Asian market, primarily Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore, he said.

Although sales of electric vehicles (EVs) have been increasing in recent years, they are still in the minority, making up just 2 per cent of the total vehicle population worldwide.

“The reason why the uptake of EVs generally, whether cars or motorcycles, is low is because the price is expensive, let’s not beat around the bush,” said Dr Taureza, noting that the main reason for this has been battery prices.

However, with battery prices declining in recent years, it is only a matter of time before price parity is reached, he added.

To attract consumers, Mr Chan said the onus is on companies like Ion Mobility to “up our game and offer a compelling product that provides price- and performance-superiority over ICE equivalents without relying on subsidies”.

While both firms welcomed Singapore’s recent measures to accept electric motorcycles here, Mr Chan believes more can be done.

“Certain categories of electric motorcycles should be permitted to charge from normal wall sockets provided they are UL2272-certified,” he said, referring to the fire-safety standard used in Singapore for personal mobility devices such as e-scooters.

“Singapore’s touted network of EV charging stations are also all zoned for EV cars, not EV motorcycles. There is a need to consider the zoning and charging sockets for EV motorcycles too,” he added.

More refinement is also needed in the categorising of electric motorcycles, which do not neatly fit in with existing categories of conventional motorbikes, he said.

“Horsepower and kilowatt power output is not a one-is-to-one relationship,” he explained, adding a more “engineer-centric approach” is needed.

In 2018, Scorpio Electric secured S$2 million from its parent firm EuroSports Global, which promised another S$3 million if certain milestones were met.

Mr Tham said the firm aims to close another round of funding in the coming months, although he declined to provide figures.

“We started our fund-raise in January this year, and in spite of COVID-19, have been able to secure healthy investor demand amidst these tumultuous times,” said Ion Mobility’s Mr Chan.

He declined to provide figures at this time, but Mr Chan noted that it would be able to launch its motorcycle without raising more funds.

When asked how Ion Mobility would fare against other players in the electric motorcycle market, he said such discussions were “premature”.

“There is plenty of room for all of us to coexist, with each player going after different market segments,” he said.

“The real competition, the elephant in the room if you must, is consumer preferences, which have been honed by what Japanese incumbents have offered to them in terms of design, price and performance over the years,” he added.

Scorpio Electric welcomed competition, said Dr Taureza, adding that competition helps the company to “grow and continue to improve”.

He noted that apart from the two new players, established traditional motorcycle manufacturers have also entered the market.

“I think there will be tremendous growth in the EV motorcycle segment next year,” he said.

Hubless Verge TS Electric Motorcycle Is Here to Finnish Off Harley’s LiveWire

By | General Posts

by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

Despite the increasing interest of the customers in electric motorcycles, established bike makers are still reluctant to jump on this new mobility train. Only one of them, arguably the world’s most famous, announced a mass-production electric motorcycle.

That’s the LiveWire, shown by Harley-Davidson in 2019, should have been a game changer for this segment, but various issues and then a global health crisis have kind of put a dent into Harley’s plans.

While the behemoth is still wrapping its head around how to move forward, start-ups are wasting no time in coming up with increasingly appealing designs.

As one of the leaders when it comes to electric mobility in general, Finland is the perfect place to be for up and coming talents in the industry these days. And from Finland comes this bike here, called TS, and manufactured by a start-up called Verge.

Shown for the first time last year, the TS comes to the world as a hubless rear-wheel electric bike with capabilities that should dwarf those of the LiveWire.

Whereas the American machine is good for 98 miles city (158 km), the TS brings a range close to double that: 186 miles (300 km).

The Finnish-build offers a 0-60 mph (97 kph) acceleration time of under four seconds (LiveWire does it in 3.5), 107 hp of power and 1,000 Nm of torque. The top speed is limited to 180 kph (112 mph).

The Verge TS has a starting price of €24,990, which is the equivalent today of close to $27,000. That’s a tad cheaper than the LiveWire, which Harley sells for $29,799.

For a number of reasons, the comparison between the TS and the LiveWire may not be fair game, but it goes to show that established bike makers are not really making an effort in this segment, at least not yet.

Sadly, some start-ups don’t seem to have the power to stay afloat for long enough to see their designs go into production.

Curtiss Hades Electric Motorcycle Looks Amazing

By | General Posts

by Mihnea Radu from https://www.autoevolution.com

We hate regular concept art sometimes – here’s a nice rendering we did and a press release, now give us some money. However, Curtiss Motorcycle Co. has just built a prototype for its electric bike and it’s even more amazing than its sketches.

Seriously, just look at this thing! Look at it, and then scroll to the end of the photo gallery to see the 3D model. The final destination is obviously building a bike that hasn’t existed before, purely electric and looking cool.

Curtiss used to be known as Confederate Motorcycles but in 2017 decided to go all-electric and re-brand itself. Since then, they’ve basically just shown prototypes and concepts.

The Hades promises to be different. It’s being introduced with some amazing specs. The electric motor is supposed to produce something like 215 horsepower and 147 lb-ft of torque (200 Nm). It’s mounted coaxially with the rear swingarm and drives the rear wheel via a belt.

The battery itself is mounted in that weird rocket-like enclosure under the frame. The rose gold coating is what really sets this apart from other bikes.

The battery is a 399 VDC pack with capacity having been quoted at 16.8 kWh, which would give it a higher capacity than the largest standard battery offering in the Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire (15.5 kWh).

The “prototype” part of what we see here is probably the frame. Based on the concept, it’s probably going to get a carbon fiber chassis for lightness. Sounds exotic, but then this is supposed to be a $75,000+ bike. That sounds like a lot of money compared to the LiveWire, but plenty of people are willing to pay extra for custom fabrication. To their credit, Curtis are reportedly also working on a cheaper version.

If it were our money, we’d skip that funky front end, just have some normal forks and save a few bucks.

Whatever Happened to the Kawasaki J Shape-Shifting Electric Motorcycle?

By | General Posts

by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

In the very near future, electric motorcycles will become just as common as electric cars. There are countless startups working on such projects, and even giant Harley-Davidson has joined the party with the launch of the LiveWire.

But there is one company that saw the potential of electric motorcycles years before all others. Back in 2013, at a time when electric cars were just beginning their ascension, Kawasaki introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show the J concept, a bike the likes of which the world had never seen before.

Half a decade before Yamaha introduced the strangely shaped Niken, Kawasaki envisioned a motorcycle with two front wheels and also the ability to shorten and rise itself to suit a particular riding style. Moreover, the motorcycle was designed to be powered by an electric powertrain, something few thought about back then.

The main trait of the motorcycle was that it could provide either a low riding position for high-speed motoring, or a more upright one just for cruising. It could do that by modifying the length and height of the wheelbase at a moment’s notice.

The bike lacked handlebars in the traditional sense, and they were replaced by two controllers, governing each of the two front wheels.

The concept looked fantastic, as you can see in the gallery above. It was of course too far fetched to actually spawn a production motorcycle anytime soon, but we would have expected at least some of the technologies previewed on it to actually make it into production.

The two front wheel layout did, not at Kawasaki but over at Yamaha. The electric powertrain never made it into production at Kawasaki either – there is an electric version loosely based on the Ninja that was shown at EICMA 2019, but with only 62 miles of range it’s more of a joke than anything else.

In the lack of something better from Kawasaki in this segment, just watch the video of the J presentation from years ago and see how glamorous it all felt back then.

 

Royal Enfield Photon Electric Motorcycle Launch Price £20,000 approx.

By | General Posts

by Abhinand Venugopal from https://www.rushlane.com

This one-off Royal Enfield electric motorcycle was made by Newtown-based Electric Classic Cars

Global automotive industries have termed EVs as the future of mobility and many environmentalists (actual and keyboard warriors) are glad about it. However, an ideal balance between electric vehicles and petrol hybrids would be the best scenario if the world really wishes to cut down emissions drastically. The reason for this is that many countries still depend on coal power plants to generate electricity. Hence, a world of only electric vehicles could only accelerate emissions, indirectly.

On the bright side, the push towards electric mobility has introduced an array of interesting products. This ranges from the cost-effective Tata Nexon EV we have here to high-end performance cars such as Porsche’s Taycan Turbo S. Newtown-based (in Wales) Electric Classic Cars have done something similar at a smaller yet equally interesting scale.

Dubbed as the Royal Enfield Photon, the project is essentially a Royal Enfield Bullet with an electric powertrain. It’s a one-off product like most other commissioned Porsche, Land Rover or Volkswagen projects from Electric Classic Cars. Attention to detail seems to have been one of the top priorities in the EV since it does not look like a half-baked design. The uber-retro electric motorcycle is finished in a beautiful shade of British Racing Green with neat-looking Gold pinstripes against gloss black. The quilted leather seat is done in tan.

Purists may argue that it has ditched the original ‘Royal Enfield charm’, but it’s often forgotten that the current line of Bullet products employs an archaic architecture — especially in terms of output-to-displacement ratio. The story could take a twist when the next-gen ‘350’ models hit the market.

The Royal Enfield Photon is powered by a 12kW (almost 16bhp) hub motor coupled to four 2.5kWh lithium-ion batteries. To integrate the electric powertrain, the engineers at Electric Classic Cars had to make significant changes to the stock downtube chassis frame. The air-cooled battery pack can be filled from empty in about 90 minutes using any mainstream charging facility. It has a real-world riding range of 130km (claimed) as well.

While 16bhp does not impress on paper, EVs are mostly about good torque characteristics right from zero RPM. While the Photon is no rocket from the get-go, it has a much more enjoyable RPM band compared to its original ICE counterpart. The motorcycle tops out at 112km/h.

Hardcore Royal Enfield fans would surely miss the ‘thump’ and NVH associated with a Bullet, alongside its affordable price tag. Yes, a regular Royal Enfield in the UK is significantly cheaper at about £4,699 (roughly Rs 4.45 lakh) compared to the Photon’s estimated asking price of £20,000 (just under Rs 19 lakh).

New Kalk INK SL Electric Motorcycle Revealed with $10K Price Tag for the U.S.

By | General Posts

by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

For a while now, a Swedish electric motorcycle manufacturer by the name of Cake has been moving to position itself as a noteworthy adversary in this expanding segment. Its moves have been rather shy so far, but as of this summer the company is going head on into the segment with a brand new entry.

This week, Cake gave us a dose of optimism for an outdoor summer with the introduction of the Kalk INK SL, a vehicle meant to be used for off-roading and the casual trip to and from work in equal measure.

Cake says the new bike can be legally used on the road both in the U.S. and Europe. It is based on the same technology that underpins other Cake Kalk products (OR, &, and INK), but modified in such a way as to provide the performance required from a street-legal electric motorcycle.

Sharing the drivetrain, battery, and aluminum frame with the others from its family, the INK SL separates itself from the pack by making use of a non-linkage suspension at the rear and motocross suspension at the front, black fenders and bodywork made from polycarbonate and ABS, and two 19-inch wheels.

In addition, as a means to make it legal to operate on the road, the motorcycle received turn signals, front headlight, rear brake light, and a license plate holder.

Mechanically, the speed of the motorcycle has been increased to 62 mph (100 kph) to provide it with the required highway speeds. The range is of about three hours, which translates into anywhere between 22 to 53 miles (35 to 86 km), depending on how it is ridden.

“With the launch of the Kalk INK SL, we introduce the fourth model of street-legal CAKE bikes next to the Kalk& and recently released Ösa+ and Ösa Lite. Each of these models combines excitement with responsibility to inspire a turn toward zero emissions, whether that’s in remote or urban environments.” said in a statement Cake CEO Stefan Ytterborn.

The bike goes on sale this summer, and sells for $10,500 in the U.S and €10,500 in Europe.

Honda Partners With GM To Develop Its Next Two Electric Vehicles

By | General Posts

by Brett T. Evans from https://www.motor1.com

Honda will tune the scalable General Motors EV platform and Ultium batteries to suit its needs.

General Motors will help Honda develop its next two electric vehicles, due in North Amercian dealers by the 2024 model year. The Honda EVs will make use of GM’s proprietary Ultium battery technology and modular electric vehicle platform, although the Japanese automaker will engineer the architecture to suit consumer expectations and design priorities.

GM Ultium batteries, which were announced early last month, use proprietary low-cobalt chemistry, and the cells are stackable, either vertically or horizontally, to optimize energy storage for a variety of different vehicle types. Ultium power will make its way into the company’s scalable electric vehicle platform, which will underpin vehicles as diverse as the Cruise Origin self-driving car, Cadillac Lyriq luxury SUV, and future electric GM work trucks. The platform will allow for front-, rear-, and all-wheel drive, further improving flexibility.

Honda, however, will provide engineering input on the platform before it makes its way into the automaker’s vehicles. Furthermore, interior and exterior design work on the EVs will be all-Honda, ensuring they have a look and feel consistent with the brand’s other products. Both new electric vehicles will be built at GM’s North American manufacturing facilities.

The announcement makes good sense for both auto companies. The joint agreement allows GM to defray battery and platform development costs across even more vehicle lines, and assembling Honda vehicles in GM plants will streamline production. Honda, meanwhile, will be able to speed up the introduction of its own long-distance EVs, and both companies benefit from an expanded economy of scale.

It’s also not the first time the two auto giants have teamed up on advanced technology. Honda and GM have collaborated on fuel-cell development before, and both companies contributed significantly to the Cruise Origin’s autonomous driving technology. Going back even further, a Honda-built V6 made its way into the GM-engineered Saturn Vue starting in 2004.

Millennials Are Suckers for the Damon Hypersport Electric Motorcycle

By | General Posts

by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com/

It probably won’t be long until the electric motorcycle segment takes off, just like electric cars have started becoming more and more desirable not long ago. The difference is that in this case it will be the startups leading the charge, rather than established bike builders.

So far, the big names of the industry have steered clear of actually committing to electric bikes, with the exception perhaps of Harley-Davidson. The American-made LiveWire, once fully on the market, might just open up the buyers’ appetite for this kind of machine.

And the appetite is clearly there, even if prices for electric bikes are still extremely high. An example to that is Damon, a Canadian startup that is planning to make a splash with the Hypersport.

We’re talking about a high-tech bike that develops 200 hp from an electric powertrain and should provide 200 miles of range from a 21.5 kWh battery. These figures certainly place it at the top of the food chain in its segment.

It’s not only the powertrain that makes this bike unique, but also the technologies that were poured into it. Packed with cameras, sensors and radar, all ran by an artificial intelligence system, the Hypersport creates a virtual bubble of safety around the rider and the bike, sending the information it gathers via haptic feedback in the grips and on the windscreen edge.

These features seem to have prompted people into really liking the offer. At the end of March, as Damon announced it acquired Mission Motors, a supplier of electric vehicle components, the company’s COO Derek Dorresteyn hinted that the entire 25-units run of the Hypersport Founders Edition has already been spoken for, at roughly $40,000 a pop. And a good portion of buyers are millennials.

“Half the people ordering are under the age of 40. It really speaks to product market fit,” said Damon CEO Jay Giraud according to TechCrunch.

Damon Motorcycles Acquires Mission Motors, The Future Looks Bright

By | General Posts

by Florin Tibu from https://www.autoevolution.com

Damon Motorcycles’ Hypersport electric bikes revealed at CES were a huge hit, with the entire limited fleet of Founders Edition machines already sold out in pre-sale. The company now takes another big leap forward with the acquisition of the IP portfolio of Mission Motors, one of the strongest names in the EV powertrain segment.

The move might seem a bit surprising, but it shows that Damon Motorcycles are dead-serious about the development of future, more competitive models in this growing market.

Among the technologies that are now property of Damon we find the proven designs that helped break the AMA electric land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats, also setting new records at Laguna Seca in 2011, the 1/4 mile drag strip at Sonoma Raceway in 2012, or the Isle of Mann TT Zero race in 2014. The PM200 electric motor, the acclaimed Mission Inverter and the Skyline Telematics will now be further developed and integrated in new models that are en route to consumers.

While Damon’s Hypersport Founders Edition consisted of only 25 units, the company currently has two more special bikes on pre-sale. The Hypersport Premier Arctic Sun and the Midnight Sun, in white-gold and black-gold trim, respectively, each with a $39,995 price tag. Securing one requires a $1,000 deposit while offer lasts. If special editions are a bit off your budget, but you still want an electric Damon bike, you can also get the standard version, Hypersport HS, which tips the scales at a more palatable $24,995.

The Damon Hypersport is advertised with the “200 Making it count” punch line, emphasizing on the 200 horsepower, 200 mph top speed and 200-mile range figures. The bikes come with a liquid-cooled 21.5 kWh battery feeding a PMAC liquid cooled 160 kW motor that can do 0-60 mph in less than 3 seconds. The advertised charging time is less than three hours on a Level 2 charger.

The combined highway/city range is said to exceed 200 miles, and Damon says that doing 70 mph on a highway yields a ~161 mile range, whereas doing only 60 mph increases the autonomy to 201 miles. Still, we all know these figures can vary quite a bit, depending on weather conditions or a heavy hand.

Among the notable technologies aboard the Damon Hypersport we see the Brembo brakes and Ohlins suspensions, alongside the two proprietary features, CoPilot and Shift. CoPilot is an advanced warning system that uses dual 1080p cameras, haptics and LED alerts for forward collising warnings and blind spot detection for 360-degree safety. Shift is yet another feature embedded in the Hypersport, allowing the rider to effortlessly switch the position of the seat, pegs, handlebars and windscreen for sport and commuting scenarios at the push of a button.

Now, with Mission’s knowledge and Damon’s drive for creating new and exhilarating electric motorcycles, we can expect even more machines in the near future, and hopefully, a more affordable option to expand Damon’s customer base.

BMW’s i4 Electric Concept Comes With a Hans Zimmer Score

By | General Posts

Composer Hans Zimmer (right) and his collaborator, BMW sound designer Renzo Vitale, are creating new sounds for the German automaker’s coming wave of electric cars.

 

by Brett Berk from https://www.wired.com

To fill the aural vacuum left by the disappearance of the engine, BMW brought in a ringer.

Thelma & Louise. Rain Man. The Lion King. True Romance. Interstellar. Dunkirk. Each film works to take its viewers on an emotional journey, and each leans on a shared tool: a Hans Zimmer score that serves as a guide, signaling joy, grief, conflict, passion, and more in turn. Now, though, the Oscar-winning composer has turned his talents away from the silver screen and toward the windscreen, where he’s found a new vehicle that could use a touch of emotional direction: the electric car.

Along with more than 500 horsepower and a range of 370 miles, BMW’s all-electric Concept i4 comes with music by Zimmer. These mini scores, which BMW calls “sound worlds,” will ripple out their smoothly vibrant vibrato—think Lionel Hampton on the theremin—when the doors open, as the car starts up, and as the car drives along the road.

On the i4, a concept four-door coupe BMW unveiled earlier this month, the composition morphs slightly based the car’s current driving modes, whether “core,” “sport,” or “efficient.” Zimmer and his collaborator, BMW sound designer Renzo Vitale, call the i4’s soundtrack “Limen,” the word for the threshold below which a stimuli can’t be perceived. It’s all about connecting sound to an emotional experience, which in this case happens to be driving on battery power instead of watching Rafiki hoist Simba into the air.

“We are at a moment in time, with electric cars, when we get to change the whole sonic landscape of everything in a vehicle,” Zimmer says. “We can allow the interiors of cars to set moods and give people an experience, to let people devise their own experience, not be forced into the rumbling of a petrol engine anymore.”

Zimmer’s BMW sound worlds are in concept form now, but the company intends to roll them out over the next few years on more than two dozen electric vehicles. That will start with the production version of the i4, later in 2021.

The key here is that by replacing a rumbling engine with a silent battery and whirring motors, BMW and every other automaker are ditching the sonic experience that has been part of the automobile for more than a century. Car lovers may miss the angry sewing machine clack of a Porsche 911’s flat-six, the throaty grumble and whine of a supercharged Dodge Hemi V8, or the cranial wail of a Ferrari V-12. So might unsuspecting new EV buyers. Without the rumpus of an internal combustion engine, wind roar and tire slap sound all the louder. Zimmer and Vitale strive not just to mask those perturbances but to add delight and uplift to the driving experience.

“Think about your morning, where you have to go and start your car and go to your job,” Zimmer says. “Wouldn’t it be nice if the starting sound was something beautiful, something that put a smile on your face, something that makes your day better?”

The score does sound energizing and engaging, especially in the symphonically crescendoing “sport” mode. It definitely doesn’t sound “rumbling.” But it has some additional, and perhaps questionable, 1970s sci-fi movie overtones.

“There’s this idea that all battery electric cars should sound like a spaceship,” says Jonathan Price, senior research and development manager for Harman, a sound engineering firm that supplies the automotive industry with stereo systems, speakers, noise-cancellation equipment, and electric vehicle soundtracks–both internal and external. “Unfortunately, we don’t know what a spaceship sounds like, right? None of us have ever heard a spaceship before.”

Price is working with consumers as well as client automakers to create a relevant vocabulary for the sounds they will soon be adding to the interiors and—as regulation requires—exteriors of electric vehicles. Following recent research, his team came up with 40 different terms ranging from, as Price says, “something really progressive and futuristic—the pulsing, the whirring, the droning—all the way up to something more aggressive.”

The goal here is not just to update our terminology for car sounds, but to assist with their identification and branding. And there, Price’s work aligns with Zimmer’s. The composer’s parents always drove BMWs, and he could pick out the unique tone of their Bimmer from the balcony. “When I heard that sound,” he says, “everything was fine. Safety. Mom and Dad were home.”

Likewise, contemporary carmakers want to create soundtracks that will help people identify, and identify with, their vehicles. And because this sound is no longer tied to a physical source, like an engine, the potential choices are boundless. Which presents automakers with a new kind of quandary.

“Everybody wants to have something iconic,” Price says, pointing to how Harley Davidson attempted to patent the sound of its motorcycles’ exhaust note. So he wants his team to create the tones that will distinguish a Ford EV from a Hyundai EV. “These need to not only be very unique sounds, they need to be pleasing,” Price says. “Almost like a piece of jewelry that you wear and you hope other people envy.”

Maybe you’re wondering if all of this runs counter to one of the core promises of electric cars, the luxury of silence at speed. But Zimmer argues that for many, silence is unnerving, especially at speed. It can feel uncanny, unmoored from the physical processes that provide acceleration. When Zimmer scored Interstellar, he played on that feeling to convey the awe of rocket travel. The blastoff was the loudest moment of the film, and he blew out a few speaker systems before getting it right. But then the score goes silent. “That’s when everything was at astronomical speeds,” Zimmer says.

In any case, people aren’t seeking total silence. As automakers got better at isolating their customers from engine noise with better insulation, double-paned windows, and active noise cancellation, some customers complained. So manufacturers started piping engine noise into the cabin. BMW went further, playing artificial tunes through the stereo system. Some of this desire for sound at speed, or sound correlated to speed, may be out of habit, a generational quest for the familiar, the way that the keyboards on smart phones still make typing noises, or the cameras on smart phones still make shutter clicks. Zimmer thinks that this may vanish over time. “I think it’s sort of important to leave nostalgia behind,” he says.

Then he reconsiders. “As I said that, I suddenly remembered that every sci-fi movie we have ever seen is incredibly nostalgic.” He points to Blade Runner and Interstellar. Perhaps our dreams of the future are always enmeshed with our fantasies of the past. And our dream cars will always sound like the vehicles from our outmoded idea of the future, like something out of The Jetsons, because that’s what reassures us.

Zimmer sees his automotive work as fostering the way a car catalyzes this kind of big-picture thinking. “A car is such a great place to think, it’s such a great place to dream and have your own thoughts,” he says. “The car is the perfect private place to have constantly great ideas.”