Renault Group

The story behind the sound design with Jean-Michel Jarre - Episode 3: reality checks

12 July 2023

Artist, songwriter, 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 you 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 third episode takes us to the car parks and back streets around Renault’s Technocentre in Guyancourt, to watch the team running the first tests in real-life conditions, short-listing them and finally zeroing in on the one they would present to Luca de Meo.

BY Renault Group

Everyone was wearing their thickest coat and warmest scarf that damp and cold winter day southwest of Paris – and spending it working in an underground car park was probably not most people’s idea of fun. Except for Renault Group’s and Ircam’s sound design teams, who were back with Jean-Michel Jarre, this time at the Technocentre in Guyancourt, for a rather unusual day at work: listening to the VSPs they had created, in real-life conditions and at various speeds, to choose the best ones.

The Megane E-Tech electric doing the honours during the experiment had a busy day too, driving forwards, backwards, at 15 km/h, at 30 km/h, and parking. Lips occasionally curled in doubt but the team was generally satisfied that the sounds they had developed were what they wanted and had struck the right balance between sending a warning and showing a caring attitude.

Jean-Michel Jarre

We started with several leads, short-listed the best ones ourselves, then we let the team decide. We fine-tuned the ones we had selected and unanimously selected the final one.

Jean-Michel Jarre
Artist, songwriter and author

They selected it after listening again, this time out in the open, in the lanes around the Technocentre. Even Laurens van den Acker, Renault Group’s Chief Design Officer, came along to share his views and join the conversation.

The sound they chose for the VSP in Renault’s future electric vehicles still needed to clear two obstacles: regulatory approval then Luca de Meo’s thumbs-up. During that last meeting, the sound for the Welcome sequence, which the team is working on at the same time, will also be assessed for approval.