Imagine a manual transmission EV, is it possible? In the world of performance cars, the transition to electric vehicles is becoming increasingly inevitable. However, this shift has left many enthusiasts longing for the engagement and thrill provided by manual transmissions. While there are currently no production EVs with a shift-for-yourself setup, Toyota is taking steps to change that. According to the company’s chairman, Akio Toyoda, Toyota has developed an electric sports car prototype that features a simulated manual transmission with a clutch.
During a conversation with Automotive News at the 24 Hours of Le Mans event, Toyoda revealed his firsthand experience with a manual transmission EV prototype, which was built by Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s renowned motorsport division. He enthusiastically shared, “You hear the engine noise inside the car, and you have a manual transmission with a clutch. You truly do not notice you are driving an electric car—the only thing missing is the smell of gasoline.” These comments offer a glimmer of hope for driving enthusiasts who fear losing the engaging experience of shifting gears.
While Toyota has not made an official announcement regarding a new electric sports car, they have showcased a concept vehicle called the Sports EV. The company’s luxury brand, Lexus, is also planning to introduce an electric successor to the iconic LFA supercar. In fact, Lexus has already experimented with a manual transmission EV that simulates the feel of a traditional stick shift, aiming to enhance the engagement factor of driving an electric vehicle. They even retrofitted the Lexus UX300e with a simulated manual shifter and clutch to provide a more immersive experience.
The challenge for Toyota and other automakers venturing into this realm lies in creating a simulated manual transmission EVs that goes beyond mere theatrics. The objective is to deliver a genuine sense of control and engagement, similar to what drivers experience with conventional manual transmissions. Achieving this goal requires developing a system that not only replicates the physical sensations but also provides the driver with a seamless and intuitive driving experience.
Toyota’s exploration of a simulated manual transmission with a clutch for EVs represents a significant step forward in bridging the gap between traditional performance cars and the electric future. As technology continues to advance, we can anticipate further innovations aimed at preserving the joy and connection that driving enthusiasts derive from manual transmissions. The ultimate goal is to create an electric sports car that offers a compelling and exhilarating experience, ensuring that the transition to EVs does not compromise the sheer pleasure of driving. With Toyota leading the charge, the future of electric performance cars is bound to be thrilling, engaging, and electrically charged.
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