At the Consumer Electronics Show
going on now in Las Vegas, in-car electronics maker Harman revealed a new line of audio systems it says are designed for EVs. The "Eco-Friendly" audio systems are also over the air upgradable, a move that puts into question just what you're getting when you tick the box for that branded audio system.
Harman International is the parent company for the audio brands found in most vehicles that includes Harman Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Mark Levinson, and Revel. Their systems are in more than 50 million vehicles around the world. The company wanted to come up with a solution to help meet the demands of electric vehicles to provide increased efficiency and bring them premium features.
"We believe the next-generation of mobility should convert the time you spend in your car into time well spent – and electric vehicles are no exception,” said Bill Wyman, VP of Global Marketing, at Harman. “Environmental concerns are guiding purchase decisions more and more, but the demand for premium experiences hasn’t changed."
The new EV Plus+ Solutions includes three new ideas to offer an experience tailored to the EV. First is Ecotect, a new audio system designed to use half the parts of an existing system, offering reduced weight, less complexity, and less power consumption. It uses high-efficiency speakers, a special amplifier, and new power management technology. Harman says the system also uses innovative speaker placement and sustainable materials to improve the experience and efficiency.
Next is a cloud-based audio marketplace that lets buyers add and update their in-car audio, entertainment, and communication features from the vehicle. Since EVs and their buyers often demand the latest tech, this system allows them to upgrade their infotainment system for the life of the vehicle. This also lets the user pick from soundscapes based on national Parks, automatic volume adjustments around conversations, and upgrade their active noise cancelling software.
Finally, Harman says the Ecotect system's components allow for a new level of downloadable audio, though it's this one that has us a bit confused. It allows the vehicle owner to upgrade from the base audio system to a "premium branded audio experience" over the air.
Without any new speakers, it implies that the difference between the base system in a new car and the top Revel, JBL, or Mark Levinson option would be just software changes. We're not sure if that means the base system would be software-changed to sound worse or have the volume limited, or exactly what benefits you'd be getting from the top options.
Harman says the EV Plus+ Solutions are available to OEMs now, meaning that the upgradable and EV-optimised audio systems could start to roll out to new vehicles in a few years.