Driving school

Kia study shows the music you listen to can impact real-world EV range

The type of music playing through an electric vehicle (EV) audio system can impact actual range, according to a test study by Kia UK and a leading authority on acoustics, noise , psychoacoustics and sound science. The study indicates that playlists containing ambient classic tunes and famous symphonic compositions like Beethoven can help drivers sustain battery life much better compared to other types of music genres and artists, including The Weeknd, Kanye West and Adele.

Up-tempo pop, hip-hop, and even soulful ballad pop have been found to impact EV range due to the effect these genres have on driver behavior and driving style.

At the center of the research study was the award-winning Kia EV6. The all-electric crossover offers true battery range of up to 328 miles* and is one of the few electric vehicles currently on the market to feature super-fast charging technology that allows the car to recharge its battery from 10 to 80 per cent in just 18 minutes. The test was conducted on the top-of-the-line ‘GT-Line S’ model, featuring a powerful 14-speaker premium audio system from Meridian Audio.

The study was supervised by Dr Duncan Williams, a senior lecturer in the School of Science, Engineering and the Environment at the University of Salford. Dr. Williams also co-founded WaveTrace, a psychoacoustics consultancy specializing in the biometric tracking of human responses to sound and musical stimuli.

The trial saw participants – all of whom had never driven an all-electric vehicle before the study – get behind the wheel of an EV6 to complete a pre-set test route. On the 18-mile course, a set playlist was played through the car’s Meridian Audio sound system, featuring various music genres and songs.

Before taking the EV6 on the 18-mile test, each participant was fitted with an Empatica E4, a medical-grade wearable device that records biometric measurements.

Dr. Williams oversaw the analysis and measurements of data from the Empatica E4, with the device focusing on the infrared thermopile (changes in skin temperature), electrodermal activity (fluctuating resistance of skin altered by sweat) and blood volume pulse using a PPG optical device. sensor. Heart rate and heat rate variability were also calculated.

“What we discovered after just two days of testing is that music can really have a huge influence on the actual range of an electric vehicle,” said Dr Williams.

“Different songs resulted in varying electrodermal activity and increased blood volume for each of the participants,” Dr. Williams added. “It had a ripple effect on driving style and ultimately influenced the actual range of the EV6.

“In short: if you want to go further, listen to Beethoven and other relaxing classical music; if you’re not worried about the range dropping a little faster, definitely put on some more rhythmic tunes.

Study results

Several factors can change the actual range of an electric vehicle, including weather and temperature fluctuations, travel speed, vehicle payload, and use of in-cab technology.

This research shows that music can now be added to this list, as drivers are influenced by the tempo, rhythm and dynamics of different songs which ultimately shape driving style and behavior behind the wheel.

Classical music – such as Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9” – creates a calm, focused and balanced environment for the driver, resulting in a composed and balanced driving style. This kind of music best preserved the battery power and real range of the EV6. Test participants drove up to four times more efficiently while listening to Beethoven than some other tracks on the test playlist.

At the other end of the spectrum, up-tempo pop songs — such as The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” — proved to elicit intense emotion from test pilots. This resulted in more fiery and energetic driving styles which made them half as effective as they exploited the performance of the car more.

Adele bridges the EV range gap between Beethoven and The Weeknd. The British singer-songwriter’s 2015 worldwide hit “Hello” proved to be a striking backdrop for some test riders. The song’s slower pace is offset by building crescendos, encouraging a more emotional driving style that also had the potential to reduce the EV6’s range during the test – though not as much as the faster tracks.

Data from the two-day test study assessing the impact of different musical genres on EV6 drivers following a predefined driving route – and how these factors influence real-world range, concluded:

On average, drivers lost 25% of their range expenditure compared to actual kilometers

Total test route distance 18 miles

Average range spend 22.48 miles

Classical Music (111 BPM, Beethoven, “Symphony No. 9”), Duration: 32.5% of Playlist

Range expenditure for 22.48 miles attributable to classical music: 7.7%

Up-tempo pop duration (171 BPM, The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights”): 10.4% of playlist

Range expenditure of 22.48 miles attributable to pop up-temp music: 23.6%

Soul Ballad Duration (79 BPM, Adele, “Hello”): 15.3% of Playlist

22.48-mile reach expense attributable to soulful ballad music: 13.3%

Shut Up And Drive – how the test was carried out

A diverse set of participants was chosen for the study. The group had no prior knowledge of the carefully selected test route or the predefined track list. The testing took place over two days, with a starting point at Meridian Audio’s headquarters in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, UK.

The carefully chosen route – an 18-mile loop – covered typical everyday use of the EV6, including commuter trips, school routes and racing scenarios. But the test ride also included the fact that the EV6 was created to be much more than just an everyday EV. With its exceptional range and ultra-fast charging capability, the all-electric crossover is the new vehicle of choice for families or a group of friends looking to easily get away for a long weekend in the countryside or a summer vacation. driving adventure on the coast.

As a result, the test route combined stop/start city traffic, busy roundabouts and narrow residential roads with flowing dual carriageways, fast open stretches inland and cross roads. dynamic and winding countryside.

A carefully curated track list has been added to the EV6’s state-of-the-art infotainment system, with each song brought to life by the high-tech Meridian 14-speaker system.

The set was designed to take EV6 test riders on a contrasting sonic journey. Tracks were played in the same order (see below) for each test, with aspects such as volume, bass and treble all set to the same level for each player.

Tycho – “Wake Up”

Adele – ‘Hello’

The Weeknd – “Blinding Lights”

Anna Meredith – ‘Nautilus’

Kanye West – ‘Fade’

Beethoven – ‘Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op.125 “Choral”:2 (Molto vivace)’

The EV6’s audio settings were checked before the start of each test to ensure that all levels and elements remained the same. Additionally, the Meridian system’s Intelli-Q feature, which automatically adjusts EV6 speaker sound based on vehicle speed, was disabled for all five tests. The Meridian Active Sound Design setting was set to “normal” for all five tests. A “control” run was also performed without music.

Drivers weren’t fully informed of what the search was exploring, and tracks in the playlist didn’t necessarily correspond to the same sections of road from driver to driver, due to changing road conditions and driver behavior. The results therefore suggest a correlation between certain types of music and higher or lower energy consumption.

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