Apparently, the drivers of some Ford vehicles powered by small, fuel-efficient EcoBoost engines aren’t upshifting as soon as they should, resulting in fuel efficiency some amount shy of where it could be.
To combat this, a recent patent filing by Ford Motor Company details a means of “tricking” drivers into shifting earlier by using artificial engine noise. Autoblog reported on the new innovation, which uses the car’s speakers to play a low-amplitude noise between cylinder firings to mimic additional additional cylinder firings. In other words, the system would generate artificial engine noises to make your three-cylinder engine sound like a six-cylinder, or your two-cylinder engine sound like a four- or six-cylinder.
The idea behind this is that many drivers shift by sound rather than the needle’s position on the tachometer. Ford hopes that by feeding the driver the right false auditory clues, the company can get him or her to upshift sooner, leading to better overall fuel economy.
It’s an interesting concept, although it would clearly have more of an impact abroad, where manual transmissions are actually optioned with some regularity. We don’t imagine the system would make its way into too many of Ford’s sportier offerings like the Mustang or the ST-badged hatchbacks, but one should never say never.