New soundscapes for pure-electric driving pleasure: BMW IconicSounds Electric

The spread of driving experiences by the fully electric models from BMW ranges. That’s from hushed pleasure to enthusiastic exploration of their dynamic limits. And now a brand-typical drive sound adds even further depth to the pleasure of locally emission-free driving. BMW IconicSounds Electric will bring new and emotionally rich soundscapes into the brand’s model line-up. The new sounds are part of a collaboration between the BMW Group and Grammy and Academy Award-winning film score composer Hans Zimmer.

They reflect the specific performance characteristics of the drive system on board. In addition, the signature attributes of an electrified BMW in a completely new yet wholly authentic way. “Sound is a fundamental part of the emotional driving experience in a BMW,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, Head of BMW Group Design. “With the unparalleled experience and creativity of Hans Zimmer to count on, we are creating a unique acoustic character to our electric vehicles.” The BMW IconicSounds Electric will be available for the first time in the BMW i4 in the first half of 2022 and then also for the BMW iX in the second half of 2022. They can be imported into suitably equipped vehicles via Remote Software Upgrade.

The worlds of sound created by BMW IconicSounds Electric will vary according to the driver’s My Modes selection. The Personal, Sport and Efficient settings already available in current BMW models are merging. More specifically, for the first time by the new My Modes Expressive and Relax, with distinctive soundscapes to match. Electrified BMW M models, meanwhile, come with BMW IconicSounds Electric variants developed especially for them.

Innovative sounds for electrified BMW models

The acoustic perception of its vehicles has always been high up the priority list for BMW. The company’s acoustic engineers are working on artificial sounds for electric models since 2009. The reason is to ensure that pedestrians and cyclists hear approaching electric vehicles. In the BMW i8 launched in 2014, this pedestrian protection was joined by an artificially generated sound inside the cabin. When the car runs in its all-electric mode, it creates an audible connection.

That’s between the car and its driver, who may be more accustomed to the noise produced by conventional drive systems. The electric drive sound of the BMW i8 is an inspiration primarily by the functioning of its electric motor. The journey to a whole new sound composition has since progressed via the acoustic pedestrian protection system introduced in 2019 for the plug-in hybrid variants of the BMW 7 Series luxury sedan all the way to the BMW IconicSounds Electric.

The partnership with Hans Zimmer

In Hans Zimmer, the BMW Group is gaining experience and a multi-award-winning partner. The many accolades now stretch back over four decades. Zimmer’s passion for BMW cars started when he was very young, as he recalls: “I’ve always been a BMW enthusiast. As a child, I would recognize the sound of my mother’s BMW when she came home. I am delighted to have the opportunity to design the sound of future electric BMW models and create emotions for the electric driving experience of tomorrow.” As a long-standing friend of the brand, Zimmer felt a need to keep getting closely involved in the area of sound design for BMW.

Electrically powered BMW M cars with a sound of their own

A bespoke sound composition likewise accompanies the driving experience in electrically powered BMW M models. Consequently, the world of sound devised for the BMW i4 M50 (electric power consumption combined as per WLTP: 22.5 – 18.0 kWh/100 km [62 miles], CO2 emissions: 0 g/km) is bursting with energy. “We are seeking to transfer the traditional elements of the BMW M brand into the future,” comments Renzo Vitale.

A powerful and imposing – yet never obtrusive – drive sound succeeds in authentically conveying the hallmark agility, precision, and poise that characterizes the handling of BMW M cars. The sound intensifies sharply when accelerating, lending aural expression to the vehicle’s powerful character. As a result, the stunning performance that is a defining feature of the electric models in the BMW M GmbH range offers an intense experience.