Toyota developing manual transmission for EVs
Toyota has filed a patent in the United States for a manual transmission for electric vehicles that will mimic the operation of a traditional manual in a combustion-engined car. This technology is possibly being developed for Toyota's future generations of electric sports cars and sedans, the aim being to offer the sensations of using a manual gearbox in a drivetrain with no gears via a switchable manual mode.
Toyota's patent filing shows a detailed idea for a system that will mimic most of the sensations of using a manual car in an EV. The simulated manual transmission will work via a system of sensors in the acceleration, the simulated clutch and the gear lever. Depending on the throttle position, the module will limit or supply torque to the wheels to an extent determined by the 'gear' the EV is in, like in a manual the torque will reduce as gears rise. There will be simulated torque bands for each virtual gear like in a manual unlike the flat torque curve in an EV. A tachometer showing possibly torque output will provide information to the driver on when to shift.
The clutch's working will also be simulated with the motor cutting off or releasing torque to the wheels depending on the clutch being depressed or released. There will even be three modes to mimic the shunt felt on releasing the clutch in a manual and mimic the changing resistance from a clutch pedal when it is being operated in a manual car. This system will also go to the extent of mimicking the sensations through a gear lever during a manual shift. It will increase resistance to each shift gate when the clutch isn't pressed and release this pressure when the clutch is pressed.
This virtual manual gearbox will work via a network of sensors that will monitor wheel speed; acceleration, brake and clutch positions; the position of the shifter as well as the mode the EV is in. Information from here will be used to mimic the force on the pedals and the gear shifter for a realistic experience.
While this technology still looks to be some years away from reality, a system such as this could finally solve on constant criticism of electric cars, that of their unengaging driving experience. With everything from family hatches to hypercars going electric, differentiating technology like this will be needed to make EVs desirable to both enthusiasts and new adopters.