The electric car and the Italian motorist: enthusiastic or skeptical?

The electric car and the Italian motorist: enthusiastic or skeptical?

The electric car and the Italian motorist

The advent of electric mobility has created a clear division of opinion among consumers; as always, news can intrigue or frighten, and it is enough to read a few comments online under any of the articles that talk about electric cars to notice this clear separation. To better understand the degree of interest and the reasons that drive some consumers to buy an electric car, Quintegia and Motus-E conducted a consumer analysis, entitled "Electric mobility: inevitable or not? Analysis from the point of view of consumers ".

The results of the research present us with a situation in which interest in electric cars is very high, with the category of 'Skeptics' weighing only 11 % of the total, while the categories of 'Enthusiasts' and 'Pragmatics' take respectively 48 and 41% of the sample.

Let's start with the skeptics, the smallest part: they can be divided in turn in 'Disinterested' and 'Not satisfied', with very different reasons for this position.

The disinterested do not pay particular attention to the ecological issue, they have an average income and are already retired ; the unsatisfied, on the other hand, are large car users, but having a low income they do not approach the world of electric mobility given the high cost of entry.

In the category of pragmatists we find environmentalists and moderate environmentalists; in both cases the purchase of an electric car is driven by a motivation of ecology, but in the first case we have a group of buyers very interested in technological innovation, with a high income and that in a year covers a large amount of km. The moderate environmentalists, on the other hand, are predominantly female, largely without employment or with a low income: in this case there is interest in the environmental issue but not particularly in the technological innovation of cars, the choice of an electric car is taken into consideration only for the ecological aspect.

Finally, the enthusiasts, divided into 'Innovators' and 'Wealthy Pioneers': the former are largely men with very high incomes, they are interested in the environmental issue and therefore the electric car is the natural consequent choice. The wealthy pioneers are a young group, who use the car every day, with a strong interest in technological progress and, consequently, in the electric car.

Automobili Pininfarina Composes An Uplifting Sound For The $2 Million Electric Battista Hypercar

The Battista electric hyper car is Automobili Pininfarina's first product

Davide Demartis

Electric cars emit very little sound. This is part of their charm. Or at least once upon a time it was one of the selling points. That is until it became clear a warning note of sorts is necessary for road safety. Meanwhile, when it comes to powerful sports cars, sound is fundamental to the sensory experience. And if experience is the new luxury, then the sonic side has huge potential to help add a sense of theater, direct the mood and elevate the drive. But what should be the hum of the battery-electric car? Brands are finding their expressions and it’s been interesting to observe how each envisages this element as we edge towards the post-combustion era.

Today Automobili Pininfarina revealed its unique engine note for the pinnacle $2m Battista electric hypercar as “Suono Puro”, or pure sound. Like most things they do, the auto arm of the famed Italian design studio has approached the mission with intellect and precision as the team set out to design a sound experience, a voice, that expresses beauty, power and clean transport. “Suono Puro” has been envisaged as an aural sensation to connect the car and driver and, I assume, impress bystanders.

The Battista sound needed to convey a certain message of speed but also wellbeing as a way of ... [+] expressing the car's electric power

Davidede Martis

Working with sound designer Novo Sonic, Pininfarina followed more than 2,000 hours of compositions, developing and fine-tuning to hone in certain frequencies that are uplifting and share the positive emotional effect of, say, the Tibetan singing bowl — the typical bell that vibrates when played to produce a rich, deep, meditative tone.

At idle speed, the Battista’s sound frequency is 54 Hz (down three octaves from 432 Hz), which is a pure and resonant signature base note. The purity of this frequency can be visualized by how it forms calm, organically symmetrical ripples on water. The effect of this frequency on the human body, with on average around 70% water, thus theoretically contributes to a sense of wellbeing.

The team: Garry Lane, Automobili Pininfarina sound managing engineer, and Novo Sonic founder and ... [+] CEO, Tom Huber

Davidede Martis

Here Garry Lane, Automobili Pininfarina sound managing engineer, and Novo Sonic founder and CEO, Tom Huber, talk about the project in more detail.

Can you explain how the frequency helps create a sense of well-being for the driver?

Tom Huber: We wanted to achieve a natural sound experience and this comes from the use of frequencies. 440 Hz was first introduced to the American music industry in the first half of the 20th century to establish a reference tuning tone for instruments and orchestras. Music tuning worldwide was adapted to this as a result. However, before this, 432 Hz was the tuning of the classical music world, including by Verdi. Listening to an orchestra playing in the original tuning, many would agree on a substantial difference in terms of warmth and positive impact.

Garry Lane: The sound needed to be authentic and reflective of the brand. We decided to let the four powerful electric motors speak for themselves, combined with a special sound experience delivering a positive effect on the driver’s wellbeing.

The sound frequency is 54 Hz for a pure and resonant signature base note. The purity of this ... [+] frequency can be visualized by how it impacts on water, creating calm, organically symmetrical ripples

Davidede Martis

What was your biggest challenge in sound creation given that the Battista introduces Automobili Pininfarina to the world?

GL: For the Battista to be instantly recognizable. We wanted people to be able to hear it and know it was Battista before they could see it, fully embracing and celebrating its pure-electric powertrain. It had to be carefully curated and developed for a truly special car (and the brand) in around half the time it takes larger-volume manufacturers, who would typically develop a sonic signature in four to five years of research and engineering. That has been a tremendous challenge.

TH: A beautiful car like the Battista gives you goosebumps. The same goes for music — emotions can come across in different ways and connect with the human body. The challenge was to create a soundscape that emotionalizes a sound that many people have not yet experienced: the sound of an electric motor.

How did you resolve this?

TH: We tackled this head-on by fully embracing it, showing that the natural, pure-electric sound can be beautiful and uplifting.

Did the Battista’s design inform the sound?

TH: Yes, the sound is inspired by the signature design line around the body. The creative process in the studio began with the (Automobili Pininfarina chief of design) Luca Borgogno, forming a design-inspired “leitmotif” — a short, recurring musical phrase. This was translated onto a music sheet displaying the brand’s design philosophy based on its unique proportions represented by curves, length and harmony — something that has never been done before in this context.

This is transformed into the sound of Automobili Pininfarina and the Battista, using 54 Hz as a unique and organic base note that is always present, creating harmony between performance and wellness.

'The challenge was to create a soundscape that emotionalizes a sound that many people have not yet ... [+] experienced – the sound of an electric motor,' Tom Huber Novo Sonic

Davidede Martis

What would you say is the biggest innovation?

GL: The development of bespoke software, which we call the “sound heart”. Not only did it have to be created from scratch, but the way it was implemented was unique, working on a specified software solution to enable the highest quality sound. It is all delivered via the newly engineered, individually tunable synthesizers that respond to a range of vehicle systems, from the speed and torque profiles of the powertrain to the steering input, and 12 specially developed exterior and interior speakers in harmony with Naim Audio.

The speaker system was meticulously designed to project the 54 Hz tone across the whole frequency spectrum in immense quality. The car creates the sound in real-time, a seamless, high-resolution sound experience that encompasses those inside the car, and provides a signature sound graphic on the outside. The sound is seamlessly transmitted to the interior for a natural aural experience. It is low frequency but brings in more of the electric vehicle sound experience.

What’s the most exciting thing about “Suono Puro”?

GL: Personalized experiences and beautiful design are very important to our clients, and drivers can enjoy as much or as little of the Battista’s fine quality sound as they’d like. This results from the extensive engineering and development of the real sound of the electric motors, which develops through the different drive modes.

TH: The purity of the sound is very special. From the beginning, we wanted to tune the sound to 432 Hz. The 54 Hz base frequency conveys the soulful power of the car and is organic, using the vehicle’s hardware to provide as unique and authentic base as possible.

The way the sound embodies Battista’s design, as well as the wider brand values is unique. We haven’t just created a sound for a vehicle. We’ve evaluated in great detail how people experience the entire brand, the way it communicates with people, and what the “voice” of the vehicle is. The same design and sound themes run through the whole experience. That, to me, is genuine and original.

Hear “Suono Puro” in the Battista:

Company CEO Paolo Pininfarina talks to me about the fabled Italian design studio, and read how Pininfarina is approaching user-experience design.

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