Toronto-based startup Inmotive developed a new two-speed gearbox for electric vehicles that it claims can increase range and top speed at the same time as reducing costs for manufacturers, a report by InsideEVs explains.
Though almost all electric vehicles (EVs) use one-speed transmission, Inmotive says on its website that its new gearbox can open up a whole host of benefits for the EV market by incorporating the feature more commonly associated with internal combustion vehicles.
The company claims that its Ingear can add 7-15 percent of range to a vehicle as well as a 15 percent boost to acceleration. It also states that its gearbox can make a typical EV approximately $1,500 cheaper to manufacture, meaning it could boost EV adoption by incentivizing manufacturers as well as consumers.
"Most EVs have two reduction gears between the motor and the wheels," the company says. "The Ingear replaces the second reduction gear with a continuous chain drive and a morphing sprocket.
"To shift, an actuator directs bigger (or smaller) sprocket segments into place during a single revolution of the wheels. Power flows continuously between the motor and wheels, even during a shift."
On its YouTube channel, Inmotive shows that its gearbox can be retrofitted into an existing EV — in a video, the company shows off a Kia Soul EV driving with the newly-fitted Ingear installed. Another video shows how the Ingear seamlessly delivers continuous torque as the machine shifts gears.
Two gear, or not two gear?
The debate over whether an electric vehicle should have two-speed transmission went into high gear around the time the Porsche Taycan was revealed in 2019 as the first electric vehicle to include the feature in its powertrain. Since that time, the only other electric vehicle to have been unveiled with two-speed transmission is the Audi E-Tron GT.
Tesla's first Roadster model, released in 2008, was originally slated to include two-speed transmission, though its attempts to implement the feature caused significant delays and it was eventually scrapped in favor of a single gear.
Electric vehicles perform perfectly well without the need for two-speed transmission. Internal combustion vehicles, on the other hand, require several gears because they have a narrow RPM window in which they can operate efficiently.
The trouble is that, by using one-speed, electric automakers essentially have to choose between high torque and a high top speed — which is why they often gear their vehicles to go no higher than approximately 125 mph (201 km/h).
Though EV consumers don't seem to have greatly missed that extra gear so far, solutions like Inmotive's alongside other two-speed EV gearboxes, such as German supplier ZF Friedrichshafen's 2-speed electric drive, could mean the concept has more staying power than previously believed.