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Karma Automotive wants to make its cars sound like movie special effects

United States regulators may allow automakers and owners to choose the sounds emitted by electric cars, and Karma Automotive is taking full advantage. The automaker has developed a unique sound that will be used by its luxury cars, starting with the 2020 Revero GT. While the Revero GT is a plug-in hybrid with an integrated gasoline engine, it will use the new sound when operating in electric mode.

Regulations will soon require electric cars and hybrids to emit distinct sounds when operating at low speeds. Electric motors are nearly silent, leading to concerns that pedestrians, especially those with visual impairments, may not know that a car is approaching them. But the rule also gives automakers an opportunity to create unique sounds for cars, taking the place of traditional exhaust notes.

Karma worked with ECCO Safety Group, a manufacturer of audible warning devices, to create a special sound for its cars. In a press release, Joe Durre, Karma’s director of infotainment systems and connected cars, described the sound as a “low level, throaty electric hum.” He compared it to the “audio tones heard in many futuristic movies,” or the sound an electric guitar makes when it’s first plugged into an amplifier. We think it still sounds vaguely like an internal combustion engine, albeit one run at a constant speed.

Devices at the front and rear of the Revero GT will emit the custom sound when the car is on and stationary, or when traveling forward or reverse at speeds up to 18.6 mph, according to Karma. The sound could be changed for future Karma models, and customers may even be allowed to personalize it, according to Durre.

“This technology gives an added dimension to the personalized customization options that allow our electric vehicles to match our customers’ individual lifestyles and tastes, and help make our products even more special and unique,” Durre said.

Karma Automotive was reconstituted from the remains of Fisker Automotive, and the Revero GT is based on the old Fisker Karma. Carrying a base price of $135,000, the car uses a gasoline engine as a generator, providing electricity for a 28-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Karma claims the Revero GT will achieve 80 miles of electric range, with an efficiency rating of 71 MPGe. Karma plans to follow up the Revero GT with an all-electric model, due in 2021. You should be able to hear it coming.

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