A few weeks back, Jenson Button made an unfavourable comparison between today's low-revving F1 cars and the 21,000rpm V10 screamers of yore. The fact that F1's new stars-and-stripes-top-hat-wearing overlords are trying to spice up the sound by implanting new microphones in the cars might not seem that inspiring, but it shows the importance that we, the paying public, attach to the right sort of mechanical noise. Throw in the strong indication from Porsche, two years after the anti-reveal of the four-pot Boxster, that its much more soulful flat-six can after all continue in the next Boxster Spyder, and we start to see the power of the human earhole.
It's not going to be easy. An electric motor is an extremely simple thing that quietly converts electrical energy into mechanical energy. The conversion of fuel into energy is a lot more exciting, involving noise, explosions, vibration and smells, none of which you would hope to find in an electric motor. The only smell you're likely to get from an EV - other than the whiff of disappointment arising from the lack of fuel-burning - is the rather worrying hot-wire stench that will be all-too familiar to anyone who's ever owned a Scalextric set.
The inherent tedium of EVs isn't electricity's fault: it's just the way science goes. But it's an issue that will surely have to be addressed in order for there to be wiggle room for the marketing bods to operate in. Presently, the only point of difference between one EV and another is how many motors it has.
Singer/Williams 500hp Mezger unit, a wonderfully rendered and brilliantly integrated masterpiece that will sound as good as it looks
Unless and until a similar degree of glamourisation is brought to bear on the electric motor, the 'engine' as a basic concept will shrink back from its current starring position to much more of a bit-part role. And that will be a pity.
As your old Dad probably used to say, there's nowt new under the sun. Let's hope that some of that enlightenment will shine on the electric motor.