Renault Group

The story behind the sound design with Jean-Michel Jarre - Episode 1: the conversation

30 June 2023

Artist, songwriter and author, electronica pioneer and technology aficionado Jean-Michel Jarre has joined forces with Renault, along with Ircam and the Group’s sound design teams, to develop two types of sounds for the brand’s future electric vehicles: VSPs (Vehicle Sounds for Pedestrians) and the Welcome sound sequence (which plays when you sit in the car).

This series on the story behind the sound design shows the work in progress and Jean-Michel Jarre’s contribution to it – as an artist as well as an engineer. It also shines a spotlight on an amazing human adventure, and the goals and challenges surrounding sound design, during the countdown to reveal the sounds that will enhance Renault’s next electric model.

The first of the four episodes – The conversation – is about how this project is an opportunity for the Renault brand to underline its singular identity through its vehicles’ sounds.

BY Renault Group

The decision to enlist Jean-Michel Jarre’s services to develop the sounds for future electric vehicles started when the artist and Luca de Meo, Renault Group’s CEO, sat down during the International Motor Show in Munich in 2021 – where Megane E-Tech electric was on display. They were keen to work together straight away, on the sound experience inside vehicles and outside them: the Welcome sequence when you step into the car and the VSP (electric vehicles make no sound at slow speeds as their motor is silent).

Jean-Michel Jarre

For a musician, starting with a blank page is an extraordinary thing. Dwelling in pure silence is a challenge, and exciting.

Jean-Michel Jarre
Artist, songwriter and author

The page may have been blank but the workplace was colourful: it included a crew from Ircam(a long-time Renault partner, which conducts research into music and acoustics) and a sound design team that is up to date on the latest technical and regulatory requirements and the issues associated with developing these sounds.

This meeting between Jean-Michel Jarre’s world of sound creation and Renault’s world of electric vehicles is an opportunity for the brand to stand out and assert itself in an underexplored and practically unexploited territory for expression. It’s a territory that lasts a few seconds and the whole endeavour may have seemed utopian, but they have risen to the challenge with panache.