The move to electric cars looks set to kill off the manual transmission for good. EVs don’t have a gearbox as such so there’s no need to shift gears. But Toyota seems to be developing a system that will #savethemanuals, according to a recent patent filing.
Among the eight patent applications are simulated clutch pedal and gear shift functions, plus the ability to spread an EV’s torque curve more like what you’d find in an ICE car with a manual gearbox. There’d be less of the breathless acceleration that you get in some electric cars like the Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model S, but potentially more involvement for the driver.
The filing includes points like “the electrical vehicle includes a shift lever and a clutch pedal for pseudo-realizing the manual gear change of the MT vehicle” and “the shift lever is operated by the driver to select an arbitrary virtual gear stage mode from among plurality of virtual gear stage modes”. As per the images, Toyota would have a traditional-looking dial with a display showing which fake gear you’re in.
It’s thought that drivers will be able to choose between using the clutch pedal and the gear lever, just using the lever or having full automation. Not needing to use the clutch will be beneficial in traffic or when parking, Toyota says.
Toyota’s first EV, the bZ4X, was revealed in late 2021, and that didn’t feature anything as exciting as a pseudo-manual ‘box. Instead, this tech might be reserved for halo models, and Toyota has teased some non-SUVs (and potentially a new MR2) as part of its future electric car line-up. One of Lexus’ future models looked like an LFA successor, and now we’re imagining a manual gearbox of sorts in that.
But do you think it’d be satisfying to have an electric car with a manual gearbox? You’d know it was all electronic fakery, so would that shatter the illusion or would you just be happy to row your own gears? Tell us in the comments.