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Nissan Formula E team boss: noise should be about ‘quality’, not volume

Formula E offers up a more ‘entertainment’ skewed noise, says Nissan

Published: 15 Aug 2023

Should Formula E be making steps to create a more unique, engaging noise from its cars? Not just replicating an old internal combustion engine, but – like Hans Zimmer is doing with BMW, for example – moving towards a much more futuristic sound?

Not so, according to Nissan’s Formula E team boss Tommaso Volpe. “Personally I think they already have a nice sound, but of course you cannot compare it to a V12,” he told “But the mechanical sound of Formula E is interesting. I think it’s more in the spirit of the event where the public play a role as well.

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“So in a way you can hear the crowd more. It’s more mixed, more ‘entertainment’, not just pure, traditional motorsport,” he added.

He did however, concede that there is investment in improving the sound, but not for the sake of volume. “The quality of sound doesn’t mean that the sound has to be loud,” he said. “That’s a little bit old fashioned, thinking about the sound of vehicles in general. You can have a very high quality of sound without it being loud, but more rounded and enjoyable.”

He notes that an engineer would look at a loud car as a ‘waste of energy’. “If you sell it to the public and to potential customers the fact that the sound has to be nice, high quality but not loud – because this means your vehicle is not efficient – I think the mindset will completely change,” he said.

Both Nissan FE drivers were, unsurprisingly, unperturbed by the (lack of) noise. “It’s not comparable to a V12 for sure,” said Sacha Fenestraz, “but it’s just something you get used to. You don’t have the vibrations of the engine which is quite nice, I don’t miss that.

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“There’s a lot of tyre noise. We have tyres that don’t have a lot of grip, so we’re sliding a lot. You can hear them more than the actual car sometimes, so maybe in the future we could have a quieter tyre and then you could be able to really hear the electric motor more,” he added.

His teammate Norman Nato – who also races a Le Mans prototype – echoed his sentiment. “When you’re riding a kerb for example, you can hear the car bottoming. When you’re locking your tyre, you can use the noise of the tyre. There’s many things like that,” he said. “When I’m driving a Formula E car I don’t feel like I’m missing this really big noise, because there’s so many other noises that you don’t get from a petrol engine.”

Hands up who’d like Formula E cars to sound like steroidal Tie Fighters? You won’t get that from a petrol engine either, that’s for sure…

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