If you do not want to be spoiled by even the most minor of details in Avengers: Endgame, stop reading now.
Anyway, the Audi E-Tron GT is the sedan that Tony Stark aggressively arrived to the Avengers headquarters in before the second act. The scene is meant to evoke Stark’s boisterous personality, having him get the attention of Captain America by speeding through the Avengers compound, tires squealing, engine seemingly roaring, as one normally drives.
But the problem with this scene is that the E-Tron GT is an electric car, so it’s not supposed to have any sort of engine roar, because electric motors don’t really combust anything to generate motive power. The Chevy Bolt, Jaguar I-Pace, Nissan Leaf, and no Tesla make any sort of noise that the E-Tron makes in this scene. They’re all mostly silent, save for the occasional tire squeal or electric motor whine.
But in Endgame, the car makes a rumbly noise that seems to grow in volume as the car accelerates and die off as it decelerates, and it’s an awful lot like a combustion engine that sounds like its being driven underwater, or something. It’s like me trying to gargle Listerine. It hurts. I don’t like it.
Bothered by this, and knowing Hollywood’s tendency to misrepresent what cars actually sound like, I reached out to Audi to figure out why the hell the E-Tron GT was making any noise at all. Here’s what an Audi spokesperson told me:
The filmmakers requested a sound for a specific scene in the new Avengers movie, a sound that actively supported the drama of the scene, including the gag when Tony Stark deliberately drove by.
On the basis of this request from the filmmakers, Audi experts developed a digitally-generated sound for the car. This sound was then further developed together with the sound experts from the filmmakers in order to fit perfectly into the scene.
As well as teasing the series production version of the E-tron GT in the movie, Audi is also teasing the topic of sound for its up-coming electric cars. In the near future, regulations will require that electric cars make a sound in many markets around the world.
The sound that Audi developed for the E-tron GT concept in the new Avengers movie is not the actual sound of the E-tron GT series production version – which goes into production in 2020.
Now, immediately after seeing the movie, I had a conversation with my colleagues about this controversy, and it was pretty obvious to all of us that the noise the E-Tron GT was making wasn’t meant to sound like a combustion car. I figured the sound engineers for either Audi or the movie studio wanted a noise that was familiar, though, and that would add to the comedic effect of the scene.
And to be honest, outside of the movie and knowing it was intentional, I think they pulled it off for real-world applications. The noise is rumbly and intuitively reflects the actions of the car, and it’s an interesting solution to the challenge of developing noises for electric cars in the interest of pedestrian safety.
I don’t want a world full of silent cars, and I think the result Audi and the filmmakers came up with is unique and futuristic, while appropriately invoking the noises we all recognize as being uniquely automotive.
It’s just too bad Tony won’t be driving the E-Tron again anytime soon.