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This article was published on May 11, 2021


Thanks to Hans Zimmer, the BMW i4 EV will sound brilliant

Is the future of EV personality in sound design?

Thanks to Hans Zimmer, the BMW i4 EV will sound brilliant
Matthew Beedham
Story by

Matthew Beedham

Editor, SHIFT by TNW

Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls. Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls.

Electric cars don’t snarl, parp, and pop like high-powered combustion engines, but that doesn’t mean they can’t sound cool.

Case in point, the BMW i4 and its IconicSounds designed by none other than Hans Zimmer, or as I’m going to call him from now on: Hans Bimmer.

ev, i4, bmw, ix, hans zimmer
Credit: BMW Group
The sound of the new BMW i vehicles was developed by a collaboration between composer and curator Hans Zimmer and Renzo Vitale, Creative Director Sound at the BMW Group.

Anyway… In a tweet earlier today, BMW gave us a sneak peek at what its BMW i4, i4M, and iX vehicles will sound like as they drive along.

Typically, I find EV sounds quite cliché. They always end up sounding like something from a low-budget sci-fi movie. When we ranked the best (and worst) EV sounds, most of them left me quite uninspired.

But if you ask me, BMW just gets this one right. It has the perfect amount of depth and drama, and doesn’t rely too heavily on sounding electronic or futuristic.

BMW says the sounds adapt depending on how the car is being driven, and the driving mode selected. In comfort mode, the vehicle will sound calm and relaxing. But throw it into sport and slam your foot to the floor, and it will become “dominant and powerful.”

It’s a legal requirement in most countries for EVs to emit a pedestrian warning sound at low speed. This is to make sure people hear them coming and don’t step out into the road and get run over.

Manufacturers, however, are taking the opportunity to carefully design their sounds in such a way that it brings a bit of personality to their vehicles.

[Read: This dude drove an EV from the Netherlands to New Zealand — here are his 3 top road trip tips]

Before you go moaning and saying, it’s not the same as the natural and raw engine note of a combustion engine,” car manufacturers have been augmenting and tuning the exhaust note of their cars for ages. So don’t think what you have is “all natural.”

The only thing is now, with electric cars, audio designers start with a completely blank slate. We’re probably only just getting started with what EVs are going to sound like, but BMW’s off to a great start.


Do EVs excite your electrons? Do ebikes get your wheels spinning? Do self-driving cars get you all charged up? 

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