x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

India's noisy roads

Beep! Honk! Beep! Honk! Welcome Beep! to Honk! India. Honk Honk!

As any visitor to India can attest, drivers there have a honking problem. Whether idling in traffic or careening down a motorway, a horn seems as essential to navigation as the accelerator or the brake (although it is almost certainly used more frequently than the latter).

It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that a German carmaker, which markets itself as a purveyor of sleek style and quiet perfection, would look to attract new drivers with an abnormally noisy honker.

Audi India's Michael Perschke says the marketing ploy had a practical genesis. "You take a European horn and it will be gone in a week or two," he told India's Mint newspaper. "With the amount of honking in Mumbai, we do on a daily basis what an average German does on an annual basis."

To build a "better horn", Audi engineers spent two weeks testing a more robust device capable of handling the demands of Indian traffic. We sympathise with the engineers sitting in the control room.

Anti-road rage advocates in India are less understanding, accusing Audi of encouraging a type of behaviour that many motorists loath.

But a company has to make money. So here's an idea for Audi's UAE marketing team: blindingly bright high beams that can withstand the heavy use and constant flickering from speed-crazed left-lane drivers. Light, after all, travels faster than sound.