Elon Musk says that Tesla will soon introduce new sounds to play through the external speakers of its cars.
In a series of tweets that started with a snake and saxophone emoji, the Tesla CEO and co-founder said that new sounds would include “snake jazz”, and elevator music.
Tesla began adding external speakers to its vehicles in late 2019 to comply with the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) legislation that all electric vehicle (EV) makers must emit noises to warn pedestrians of their presence.
Around the same time, NHTSA revised its 2018 ruling to allow car makers let EV drivers choose from a pre-set list of sounds.
Under the rules, an electric vehicle must play an external sounds (known as an acoustic vehicle alert system, or AVAS) under a certain low driving speed, usually around 20km/hr.
Now, it would seem that Elon Musk has decided that Tesla drivers will be able to choose from an amusing array of noises that also includes goats bleating.
The discussion around sounds began on Saturday in response to a follower on Twitter that a “honk like a goat” would “definitely” be coming.
Also definitely coming haha. Will only be on relatively recent cars, as we didn’t have an outside speaker until about a year ago. Can change inside sound easily.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 14, 2020
On Thursday he added that “New Tesla feature coming that enables your car to play snake jazz or Polynesian elevator music through its outside speakers wherever you go.”
New Tesla feature coming that enables your car to play snake jazz or Polynesian elevator music through its outside speakers wherever you go
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 20, 2020
Elevator music and goat sounds would be amusing additions and give pedestrians a definite comical heads up that a Tesla car was in their vicinity.
Snake jazz, on the other, sounds like a pretty niche market. In fact, it refers to a certain Rick and Morty episode which features a new type of jazz “for humans that hate jazz” (you can edify yourself here).
Many car makers have already added warning sounds to their electric vehicles, and some of them have gone for a creative edge.
While Nissan, which reintroduced the Nissan Leaf to Australia in July 2019, added a fairly middling high-pitched whistling sound, Jaguar has opted for a sci-fi style sound that apparently resulted in people looking upwards instead of towards the road.
BMW on the other hand looked to movie score writer Hans Zimmer to create sounds for its futuristic Vision I-Next.
But not Tesla, which in line with its at times eccentric CEO, seems to be choosing a series of references to cult TV shows and movies.
Echoing sci-fi “cyberpunk” film Blade Runner’s influence on the Cybertruck design, in January, Musk has also discussed the possibility of adding the ability for Tesla electric cars to “talk” like KITT, the Pontiac Trans Am from 1980s series “Knight Rider”.
Teslas will soon talk to people if you want. This is real. pic.twitter.com/8AJdERX5qa
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 12, 2020
But honestly, the one we can’t wait to hear that was first mentioned in 2019 by Musk is a Monty Python reference: coconuts.
Customized horn & movement sounds (coconuts being one, of course) coming to Teslas soon
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 6, 2019
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.