BMW is turning to Hollywood once again with the help of German-born composer Hans Zimmer.

    Previously reported with the reveal of the all-electric iX3, BMW has announced its i4 and iX electric vehicles (EVs) will receive new soundtracks that are composed by Mr Zimmer as part of an over-the-air (OTA) software update.

    The i4 is set to receive this update in the first half of 2022, whereas the iX will receive the update in the second half of 2022.

    This OTA software update will be rolled out globally all at once, with a BMW Australia spokesperson confirming we’ll a receive it at the same time as the rest of the world.

    Best known for composing the soundtracks for Gladiator, The Dark Knight, The Lion King and Interstellar, among countless others, Mr Zimmer has collaboratively worked with BMW to compose its EV soundtracks.

    Called the BMW IconicSounds Electric, this is BMW’s attempt at creating soundtracks as acoustic feedback for its EVs which inherently produce little in the way of noise.

    BMW’s acoustic engineers first began working on artificially-generated sounds for its upcoming EVs in 2009 as a way to warn pedestrians and cyclists about the vehicle’s presence.

    The German automaker’s first exploration into artificially-generated sounds inside the vehicle’s cabin was with its now-defunct i8 plug-in hybrid (PHEV) sports car for when the car was running in all-electric mode.

    As part of this BMW IconicSounds Electric update, BMW and Mr Zimmer have collaborated to compose sounds such as the ‘ready-to-drive sound’ for when the start button is pushed, and a drive sound with different modes.

    BMW says the i4 and the iX are said to have “bespoke soundtracks” which reflects the respective car’s characteristics.

    The German automaker has also said that its all-electric M vehicles, such as the i4 M50 and recently revealed iX M60 will receive a different soundtrack again with “a powerful and imposing – yet never obtrusive – drive sound”.

    During the creative process for composing these sounds, Mr Zimmer and BMW Group Creative Sound Director Renzo Vitale often used traditional instruments in an unconventional way.

    As examples, Mr Zimmer and Mr Vitale snapped guitar strings instead of strumming them and threw objects against a wall in order to find unpredictable sounds.

    These BMW IconicSounds Electric soundtracks are said to reinforce the relationship between the driver and the car.

    “When the driver interacts with the pedal, it’s more than just a mechanical contact point – it’s a performative element,” said Mr Zimmer.

    “Accelerating is turned into an experience that takes the driver through a whole series of gradually changing sound textures.”

    Jack Quick

    Jack Quick is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne. Jack studied journalism and photography at Deakin University in Burwood, and previously represented the university in dance nationally. In his spare time, he loves to pump Charli XCX and play a bit of Grand Theft Auto. He’s also the proud owner of a blue, manual 2020 Suzuki Jimny.

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