Classical music could be the key to making electric car batteries go further

7 April 2022, 17:02

Could Beethoven be the key to more efficient driving?
Could Beethoven be the key to more efficient driving? Picture: Alamy

By Siena Linton

New research shows that listening to Beethoven made drivers four times more efficient than pop music.

Music is one of the best mood-boosters around, whether you need a pick-me-up, something to relax to, or something to give you a good tug on the heart strings. But did you know that, depending on the type of music you listen to, it could also make you a more energy-efficient driver?

A new study carried out by Kia looked at how the type of music you listen to in the car could affect how efficient you are as a driver. Testing its latest electric vehicle, the EV6, Kia had drivers listen to an eclectic playlist (below) ranging from Beethoven to Kanye West over an 18-mile journey.

Over the course of the route, the drivers, who were all new to electric vehicles, journeyed through a combination of stop-start traffic in residential areas, country roads, and fast-flowing dual carriageways.

Read more: Music takes 13 minutes to ‘release sadness’ and 9 to make you happy, according to new study

Kia's new EV6 electric vehicle
Kia's new EV6 electric vehicle. Picture: Classic FM

On average, drivers expended 22.48 miles from the car’s total range of up to 328 miles. Although the second movement of Beethoven’s ‘Choral’ Symphony No. 9 took up the largest percentage of the playlist (32.5 percent), it was also linked to the smallest percentage of the total expenditure over the journey (7.7 percent).

By contrast, the high-tempo synth-pop hit ‘Blinding Lights’ by The Weeknd took up only 10.4 percent of the playlist, and yet 23.6 percent of drivers’ average range expenditure was attributable to the song.

As a comfortable middle ground, Adele’s 2015 ballad ‘Hello’ saw drivers take on a more “emotive” driving style, but ultimately the average range used up by drivers during the track was in proportion with the track’s length.

Read more: Grade-A music geek turns Adele’s ‘Hello’ into a Bach fugue with perfect counterpoint

In conclusion, Dr Duncan Williams, lecturer at the University of Salford, who oversaw the study, said: “Music really can have a dramatic influence on the real-world driving range of an electric vehicle.

“In short: if you want to go further, listen to the likes of Beethoven [or] relaxing classical music; if you’re not worried about range dropping a little more quickly, by all means put on some more high tempo tracks”.

The full playlist used in the study is as follows:

  • Tycho – ‘Awake’
  • Adele – ‘Hello’
  • The Weeknd – ‘Blinding Lights’
  • Anna Meredith – ‘Nautilus’
  • Kanye West – ‘Fade’
  • Beethoven – Symphony No. 9 in D Minor (‘Choral’), 2nd movement (Molto vivace)