Hybrids and electric vehicles (EVs) are at the center of a hotly contested debate: one side believes they are costly, lousy investments while the other side argues it’s a moral imperative for drivers to make the switch.

But there is one point that everyone agrees on: hybrids and EVs are outrageously, remarkably quiet.

Silence Isnt Golden: Audi Composes Engine Noise for Quiet Hybrid and Electric VehiclesToo, too quiet…

In fact, hybrids and EVs are so quiet that researchers at Audi have dedicated the last three years to figuring out how to deal with this safety issue.

“Since pedestrians and cyclists are likely used to cars that make some engine noise, Audi has recruited a sound engineer to compose sounds for its future electric cars. Unlike regular automobiles that make use of explosive fuel, electric cars usually emit nothing more than tire noises, which mean you’ll need an acute sense of hearing to avoid getting run over,” CNET’s Timothy Fernandez writes.

“By playing back a synthesized audio track that gets louder and more intense as the vehicle accelerates, Audi could be making these electric cars safer for people, too, and not just the environment,” he adds.

Watch a short explanation of Audi’s achievement (via CNET):

Final thought: As CNET notes, will Audi’s research lead to a future where we can customize how our engines sound? Because if this is the case, we are totally programming our car to sound like the Jetson-mobile.

(H/T: BI)

Front page photo source: Designboom