Sound design for DAF, Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks

User-centric interior warning sound design and consulting for PACCAR truck brands DAF, Kenworth and Peterbilt.

The DAF head of design approached me for the creation of auditory notices for the new generation of DAF heavy duty and medium duty Trucks. The trucks needed sound feedback towards the driver for a range of situations. For example, the safety-relevant seatbelt reminder, the safety-critical ADAS warnings and the friendly alarm clock wakeup. As the new trucks would raise the bar in terms of driver comfort, the sounds should be higher in quality than previous utilitarian beeps. My experience with premium car sound design was particularly relevant.

Multi-brand sound strategy

DAF is part of PACCAR with the North American brands Kenworth and Peterbilt that partly share technology but serve very different markets. Therefore, I proposed to expand the project to cover all brands. To do that, I created an overarching sound strategy incorporating safety, functionality, brand positioning, aesthetics and technology.
Some sounds were made common across all brands while others were specifically designed for brand differentiation. Above that, that the sounds within one vehicle should be one harmonious set.

My role

My role was that of project lead and main consultant. I defined the approach and gave advice to the client stakeholders of the different brands. It involved defining driver-centric functional requirements and sound character appropriate for the different brands and their markets. Moreover, I set technical requirements for the audio hardware and relevant acoustics and worked with the software and electronics engineers to achieve them. I partnered with Impulse Audio Lab for the creation of the actual sounds. They iteratively created sound concepts and final sounds fit for vehicle integration. In parallel, I did quality control and gave advice on getting approval from key stakeholders.

After the project, direct feedback from stakeholders and drivers was very positive. Drivers commented that the sounds were a large improvement over the previous generation in terms of clarity and quality.