What’s more dangerous to your long-term health, an electric car or a petrol one?
Well, if you’re a pedestrian, its’s an electric one. By a long way. You’re 40% more likely to be hit by an electric or hybrid car then a petrol or diesel one.
At first, this might seem like a trivial problem. But as electric vehicles become ever more popular, it is turning into a worldwide “public health crisis”, as tabloids like to say.
In fact, it’s such a big concern to lawmakers that they have decided to do what they do best and regulate against it.
From July, all new electric and hybrid vehicles sold in Europe will have to have a “noise-making generator”. And existing models mist all be retrofitted with one by 2021.
And here’s where the story gets a little weird.
Carmakers are experimenting with different fake car sounds to match the image they want to project. Sports cars will sound aggressive, 4x4s will sound deep, city cars will sound friendly.
From Wired (emphasis mine):
It’s both about safety and image. “Performance models need to have a more assertive sound, with more bass. It cannot be a high-pitched din, like a sewing machine. It has to be futuristic,” Frank Welsch, who heads technical development at Volkswagen, told Reuters. SUVs have to make a deeper sound because they are bigger, he added.
Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, is looking into artificial humming noises to warn pedestrians. And AMG is collaborating with the rock band Linkin Park in search for the perfect sound for its electric vehicles. Jaguar has already developed an Audible Vehicle Alert System for its I-Pace model, which is heard outside but not inside and sounds somewhat like a quiet air-raid siren.
Automakers may end up creating distinct sounds for their vehicles, there is an agreed standard: it has to be a mix of white noise and tonal sounds. White noise is pleasant to the human ear, and the direction where the sound is coming from tends to be easily identifiable. Tonal noise from combustion engine cars bounces off hard surfaces, and it’s sometimes tricky to instantly identify the source.
There are two very strange things to point out about that excerpt.
Firstly, the fact that AMG is working with a long-forgotten “nu metal” band from the early 2000s, to find its sound.
If that sentence didn’t come from an otherwise fairly standard article, from a reputable publisher, I wouldn’t believe it for a second.
I actually double-checked the date on the Wired article to make sure it wasn’t published on April Fools’ Day.
Perhaps AMG is trying to do what Apple did when it worked with Dr Dre on his beats headphones. Only no one told AMG that nu metal stopped being cool more than a decade ago.
The other strange thing was this statement: “White noise is pleasant to the human ear”.
If you’re old enough to have watched TV before the digital switchover, you’ll know that white noise is one of the most unpleasant things you can hear.
That’s why white noise is commonly used as a torture technique by interrogators.
It’s such an unnerving sound that most horror film trailers feature white noise cut together with short screams to put you on edge.
Pretty soon it sounds like our city streets will be sound tracked with a combination of taut-like white noise and angsty nu metal.
Electric vehicles are officially outselling petrol ones
Aside from those strange developments, we are starting to see a real rush for electric vehicle (EV) manufacture.
In Norway, EVs now outsell fossil fuel-powered ones.
In a symbolic first, electric cars outsold fossil fuel-powered ones in Norway last month.
Christina Bu, the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association’s general secretary, said Monday that 58.4% of new cars sold in the country in March were battery-powered, calling it “historically high.”
Tesla Inc.’s TSLA, +3.40% delivery ramp-up of Model 3 sedans contributed to the March surge.
Bu added that electric cars’ share of the market in the first three months of 2019 was 48.4% and is expected to hover around 50% for the whole year.
“Norway shows the whole world that the electric car can replace cars powered by gasoline and diesel and be an important contribution in the fight to reduce C02 emissions,” Bu said in a statement.
And last month Ford announced it was investing $850 million into EV manufacture in the US. $850 million is a lot of money, whichever way you look at it.
“We’ve taken a fresh look at the growth rates of electrified vehicles and know we need to protect additional production capacity given our accelerated plans for fully electric vehicles. This is good news for the future of southeast Michigan, delivering more good-paying manufacturing jobs”
– Joe Hinrichs, president of Global Operations at Ford
Then this month, Ford announced it is planning to launch 16 EVs in Europe, eight of which will be on the road before the year is out.
Even Ford’s iconic “white van” is going electric.
From Tech Crunch:
Ford focused on the commercial end of the market as well, with plans to bring an all-electric Transit van to Europe by 2021. Ford is bringing a plug-in hybrid version of the Transit van to market this year. This plug-in hybrid will have a 13.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and Ford’s 1-liter EcoBoost gas engine, which acts as a range extender.
The powertrain will have an all-electric (sometimes referred to as a zero-emission driving range) of 31 miles, and a total 310 miles range using the range extender. The vehicle is being trialed in London, with further testing scheduled to start soon in Valencia, Spain, and Cologne, Germany.
There is no word yet on which band ford is working with for the white van’s sound.
Quintessential motorbike manufacturer Harley-Davidson is at it, too.
Harley’s “live wire” electric motorbike launched in January and is expected to ship this autumn.
The main selling point of this bike is that it’s “twist and go”, just like a scooter. A scooter that costs $30,000 goes from 0 to 60mph in 3.5 seconds and has a top speed of 110mph.
What does an electric Harley sound like?
According to The Daily Mail, “Harley says its electric powertrain will produce a ‘new signature Harley-Davidson sound,’ with minimal vibration, heat, and noise.”
I wonder if Harley is working with nu metal bands, too? It kind of sounds like it might be.
The Harley-Davidson live wire, sound tracked by Limp Bizkit.
But it is China that’s really leading the charge on EVs
Yes, China, that powerhouse of pollution creates more demand for EVs than anywhere else in the world.
I’ve written before that China’s mass adoption of electric buses (made by little-known firm BYD… which also has a partnership with crypto VeChain (VET)) has reduced world oil demand by 233,000 barrels a day, according to Bloomberg.
But China is going one better than that now. It accounts for 90% of all two-wheeled EVs.
Global sales of electric bikes last year reached 40m, according to a recent report – and China accounts for 90 per cent of this.
In China, production has reached such scale and efficiency that it’s possible to buy a new electric motor scooter for less than $100. Second-hand models are even cheaper, and users can also buy kits to convert normal bikes to e-bikes. In some parts of Asia, electricity grids are also better developed than fuel stations networks, meaning electricity is also often cheaper than petrol.
The EV revolution is one of the key topics Eoin Treacy covers in Frontier Tech Investor.
Whereas in Exponential Investor, I bring you the latest news and commentary on what’s happening, Eoin shows you how to invest in it.
And right now he has a number of smart investment plays to make the most of these developments. If you’d like to see them, and find out why Eoin believes they could make you such a high return on your money, you can take out a trial to Frontier Tech Investor here.
Until next time,
Editor, Exponential Investor
PS If you’re wondering what a “mosh pit” is, you clearly missed out on the nu metal craze of the early 2000s. It’s basically a load of people listening to loud music, jumping around and doing their best to push each other over. And it’s the reason I spent most of my teens and early 20s with constant bruises everywhere.