Electric vehicle sales have been on a major upswing lately as high gas prices and EV subsidies drive consumers to ditch their gas-powered vehicles for new electric or hybrid models. Chevy has gone all-in on the EV trend with the recent announcement that it will electrify two of its most popular models: the Blazer SUV and Silverado pickup. The vehicles will join Chevy’s current EV offerings, the Bolt EV and EUV, in 2023 for the 2024 model year, giving drivers new, greener options that retain Chevy’s reputation for style and performance. Electrifying one of America’s most beloved pickups is a surefire way to attract new drivers to the EV sector, but it’s only half the battle, according to some patrons at a local used Chevrolet dealership in Suffolk, Virginia.
“I understand the appeal of EVs; heaven knows I’m tired of paying out the nose at the gas station, but they’re just too damn quiet,” says Mark Cohen while browsing the dealership’s EV selection.
Automakers like Chevy are responding to Cohen’s concerns with a new optional equipment package that gives EVs a chance to change their tune, so to speak. Notoriously quiet thanks to their all-electric powertrain, EVs equipped with the Audio Enhancement Package (Order Code: D0-UCH3) will add the noise of a gas-powered engine back into the EV equation.
The system is basically the 21st century equivalent of putting a baseball card in the spokes of your bicycle tire, allowing the new breed of EVs to make an outsized racket and drawing the attention and ire they so deeply crave. The system uses six externally mounted speakers to pump engine noise into the surrounding area without disturbing those within the cabin.
Drivers can select from various simulated engine noises, from a relatively quiet four-cylinder option up to a V8 turbo diesel. In addition to regular engine noise, the system even includes a feature that adds some realistically distressing mechanical noises to the vehicle’s sound profile. Users can choose between “engine knocking,” “backfire,” and “bucket of bolts dumped in the muffler.”
But the Audio Enhancement Package is just one approach in the war to win over EV-wary drivers. While still in the works, another system is showing early promise in allowing drivers to pursue some hobbies only available to those with a traditional combustion engine. For too long, there hasn’t been a satisfactory equivalent to the confoundingly self-owning phenomenon of “rolling coal” when it comes to an EV, leaving many drivers stymied when it comes time to express their displeasure with other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.
For the uninitiated, “rolling coal” is the practice of modifying a diesel engine to emit large amounts of soot-filled exhaust fumes. While unequivocally bad for the planet, vehicle, and driver’s wallet, the practice is especially popular amongst those whose fragile sense of identity is directly related to how obnoxious they can be on the road.
Though sensitive to the environmental impact of these sorts of primal displays of power, Chevy engineers have made some concessions to those who believe that smoke signals represent the most honest and direct form of roadway communication. Instead of burning carbon-heavy exhaust fumes, for example, some Silverado EVs will opt for a different, more Woodstock-worthy approach. While the simulated noise will be supplied by the sound system, the “exhaust” will come from an integrated incense burner located in the dashboard. Drivers can choose from popular scents which have been rebranded with more aggressive names catering to the pickup set. Options include Eagle Blood (Nag Champa), Refinery Sunrise (Sandalwood), Pit Crew (Patchouli), and Gridiron Hoagie (White Sage), giving drivers a diverse range of options when it comes to smells.
“My wife and that pencilneck couple’s therapist we pay for said I need to work on my communication, so I told her that’s what the horn is for, but this could work too,” says Cohen.