Never Fear, Manly Men: Electric Muscle Cars Will Still Damage Your Hearing

Dodge is fine-tuning a fake exhaust noise in a bid to appease V8 diehards

The Dodge Charger Daytona SRT, an electric muscle car concept, features a fake exhaust noise that is supposed to resemble a V8 engine
Dodge is hard at work on its electric muscle car's...fake exhaust noise?

For all the hand-wringing about electrification, if you step back a bit, you’ll realize we’re actually in one of the most exciting times for cars in decades, if not the most exciting of all time. The future of what driving will look like has been blown wide open in the quest for cleaner cars, with new powertrains, new technology and completely new conceptions of what an automobile looks like all coming down the pike. The time for automakers to dream big is now. 

One realm of innovation you may have missed is sound. Now that internal combustion engines are being swapped for batteries and electric motors, your car can sound like, well, pretty much anything! Ford made a Mustang Mach-E prototype that sounded like a Star Wars podracer, Tesla at one point supposedly had Monty Python and the Holy Grail coconuts available through their Pedestrian Warning System and BMW hired none other than Hans Zimmer to compose the soundscapes for its electric vehicles. Hans Zimmer, people! Now that is dreaming big.

Meanwhile over at Dodge, they’ve got their best and brightest working on…a fake V8 sound? 

After announcing it would build the “world’s first full battery electric muscle car” in 2021, Dodge gave everyone a preview of its progress in August 2022 by unveiling the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept. At the time, the company said it “muscles aside the boring BEV paradigm and replaces it with an electrified vehicle unlike any on the road today.” That included a fake exhaust sound.

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“The Charger Daytona SRT Concept voices a 126 dB roar that equals the SRT Hellcat, generated through a new, patent-pending Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust system. Yes, Dodge added an exhaust to an electric vehicle,” Dodge wrote in a press release. This FCE system, they explained, “pushes its one-of-a-kind performance sound through an amplifier and tuning chamber located at the rear of the vehicle.”

The only problem? Some people didn’t find any of the “bone-shaking, muscle attitude” Dodge promised. In the comments section of one video of the car’s reveal, users equated the sound to a ‘90s toy car, a vacuum cleaner and a leaf blower. 

So Dodge went back to the drawing board (Pro Tools?) and, as Jalopnik pointed out, has now unveiled version two. You can hear it for yourself in a Youtube video from InterUnetAutomotive:

It certainly does sound closer to the rumbling V8 that you’ll find in a Challenger today. But if I may ask a more pertinent question: what the hell are we doing here? 

The way Dodge is pitching this sound is frankly embarrassing. The “roar” of this audio system gets up to 126 decibels, which is somewhere between a siren and jackhammer on the hearing loss scale. It’s good to know we’re focusing on continuing to damage our inner ears instead of, oh, I don’t know, creating EVs that are actually cleaner than their gas counterparts.

But let’s just accept for the moment that we all think this sounds cool. Even if that’s the case, it’s a frankly absurd endeavor. A commenter on Jalopnik’s article put it best when they wrote, “Can you imagine if early cars had fake ‘clopidy-clop clop-clopidy-clop’ sounds to make fake horsey sounds? Whatever comforts people who are terrified of change, I guess.” As the kindergartener is soothed by clutching their blanket on their first day of school, the muscle-car diehard is calmed by the phony V8 sound rumbling from the fake exhaust pipe of their first EV.

The thing is, people who love their V8-powered muscle cars can just keep on driving them. No one’s taking them away. So maybe we let muscle cars be muscle cars and let these new EVs be something else entirely.

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