Photo credit: Dodge

by Jeanine Botta, MPH, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition

At Dodge Speed Week in Pontiac, Michigan on August 17th, automaker Stellantis introduced its Dodge Charger Daytona SRT concept car, calling it the first all-electric muscle car. While a press release for the car lists dozens of features, the detail that is garnering the most attention is that the car has added a simulated exhaust sound emitted from a rear exterior amplifier that promises to reach up to 126 decibels. Simulated performance sounds are also emitted inside the cabin along with visual features.

It is impossible to know how automakers and U.S. regulators, including National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, can allow the creation of features capable of causing permanent hearing damage to drivers.

When I wrote this post in 2017 about Ford Mustang’s added engine sound and its capacity to disturb neighbors, I discussed the idea of anticipating conflict during the production process. Ford’s added sound was nowhere near 126 decibels.

There are YouTube videos with hundreds of thousands of views posted by mechanics who have helped car owners eliminate similar sounds in late model Subaru, Toyota, and Volkswagen cars, among others. There are just as many car forums where users ask for help eliminating this kind of sound, and blog posts from car enthusiasts and mainstream industry articles whose authors question the wisdom of the sound technology. Comment sections are filled with posts that are positive about the car, but critical of the sound. Note that any assertion associating the car’s sound system with pedestrian safety legislation is incorrect: there is no relationship.

Is it possible that Dodge might reconsider its plans for the car’s sound levels?

Usually introduced at auto shows, concept cars create interest and excitement for a version of a car that may or may not be produced–they are created to generate media interest, test public opinion, and test new technologies. In a video about concept cars, the head of global design with Fiat Chrysler tells us that some people have been so taken with a concept car that they’ve sent checks as deposits on a car that they hope will be produced.

The Dodge Charger Daytona SRT is being marketed for 2024 planned release. If you are concerned about plans for the car’s sound levels, don’t send a check. Instead, consider writing to decision makers at Dodge, the NHTSA, the EPA, and SAE International.