University engineers help rally driver Hayden Paddon's EV car roar
3 November 2021
One challenge faced by EV cars in motor racing is that they are so quiet they can be a risk to spectators, plus they just don't sound right.
One feature of electric vehicles is that they are very quiet. But when it comes to motor racing that isn’t a good thing.
Dr Andrew Hall, a mechanical engineer and acoustician in the Faculty of Engineering, is helping to solve this issue.
He, technologist Gian Schmid and fourth-year students Aman Sagoo and Bevan Tucker are working with Kiwi rally legend Hayden Paddon, at Paddon Rally Sport, to develop a sound-generating device for Hayden’s Hyundai Kona EV car. The aim is to improve EV rally car safety and make it sound like ‘real racing’.
“Motor rallies often take place in forests, and cars suddenly race out from behind trees or over a crest,” says Andrew. “The lack of noise can pose safety issues if people don’t hear the cars coming.
“Spectator enjoyment is also really key, so we modelled our sound profile on Hayden’s love of the V8 Judd and V10 Formula One car engine sounds. We’re aiming to get Hayden’s EV car to really scream.”
Spectator enjoyment is also really key, so we modelled our sound profile on Hayden’s love of the V8 Judd and V10 Formula One car engine sounds. We’re aiming to get Hayden’s EV car to really scream.
Rather than mounted loudspeakers that could be smashed off or damaged in the harsh environments in rally sport, the engineers have developed other techniques.
“We’ve created a mechanical system that creates a realistic frequency spectrum,” says Andrew. “We’re working closely with Hayden’s team and have a prototype being tested on his car in Cromwell. We know it works, but we need to test how robust it is.”
Andrew’s usual acoustic work is to reduce noise, in building materials for example, but he is also a keen motor rally fan.
“In a typically Kiwi way, I just sent Hayden an email and offered our services. He got back to us and said he was really keen to collaborate.”
Andrew says having world-class facilities and a team with 20+ years of experience at his fingertips has made it possible.
“The University is lucky to have amazing acoustic facilities. We’re one of the best in Australasia. We do testing for local and international companies, such as building acoustics, appliance noise and developing noise-reduction materials for apartments.”
For now, his team is focused on working on the EV rally car with Paddon. There’s also potential for the devices to be used in Formula E racing in Europe.
It’s pretty much non-petrolhead heaven.
This is a companion item to the Ingenio Spring 2021 cover story 'EVs: charging into the future'.