This Innovative Billboard Uses Noise Pollution to Charge Electric Cars

Peugeot and BETC 'recycle' city sounds

Thousands of acoustic sensors in the billboard converted noise in one of Paris' loudest neighborhoods into energy. - Credit by BETC
Headshot of David Griner

While it can be a bit unnerving for pedestrians when a car whooshes by with little more noise than a passing breeze, the relative silence of electric cars is one of their best attributes. We’ve become so accustomed to the raucous clatter, sputter and grinding of combustion engines, we hardly even notice the sounds until they’re gone.

To promote its newest 100% electric model, the e-208, French automaker Peugeot plays up that silence in a fascinating way with a new outdoor ad developed by agency BETC. The billboard uses thousands of acoustic sensors to harness the sound of urban noise pollution and turn it into energy, which can then be used to charge a car.

It’s admittedly a prototype and comes with a major caveat: The noise doesn’t generate enough energy to power the car without being supplemented by the city grid. But it’s still a compelling and creative concept with a certain baked-in irony, given that the car’s design is aimed at helping eliminate the kinds of city sounds being harnessed here.

As shown in the video, the billboard harnesses the power of piezoelectricity, through which materials generate an electric current when put under stress. In this case, sound vibrations from ambient city noise create that stress.

“It is essential for the brand to contribute to building the world of tomorrow by exploring new areas of innovation in the electrification of our vehicle range,” says Thierry Lonziano, Peugeot global marketing and communication director. “Of course, it cannot charge the entire vehicle yet. We still need the urban network, but this is a very encouraging start.”

Created in partnership with outdoor media company Clear Channel, the billboard was on display in Paris from Oct. 23-30.


Brand: Peugeot
Brand Management: Jean-Philippe Imparato
Thierry Lonziano
Nuno Marques
Nathalie Le Maitre
Agency: BETC
Agency Management:
Henri Tripard
Tiphaine Du-Plessis
Nicolas Rocca-Serra
Emilie Grimaldi
Mathilde Sikorsky
Executive Creative Officer: Rémi Babinet
Executive Creative Director: Antoine Choque
Creative Director: Guillaume Rebbot
Art Director: Eva Sgarro
Copywriter: Jules Rhety
Head Of Strategy: Guillaume Martin
Engagement Planner: Donya Bouzarjomehri
Strategic Planner: Adrien Torres
Traffic: Céline Laporte
Rights Negotiation: Alice Rolin
Technical Expert: Boris Le Berre
Technical Production: MakeMePulse
Senior Creative Producer: Bao Tu-Ngoc
Agency Producer: Jennifer Braux
Production Company: L’Ensemble
Director: Nicolas Bozino
Head of Production: Fabien Giraud

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."