Blending the old with the new, Toyota designs manual transmissions for electric cars

It's released a series of patents outlining its plans.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Automatic transmission gear of carVitalij Sova/iStock

There is nothing like the feel of a manual transmission. The level of control it offers is unparalleled.

Many fans of this type of transmission want to switch to electric vehicles (EVs) for the many obvious benefits but resist giving up the feel and power of driving with a manual transmission.

Soon, they may not have to.

Manual transmission for EVs

Toyota filed eight new patents with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, first spotted by BZforums.com, that describe a mechanism for drivers accustomed to and passionate for manual boxes. The patents together paint the picture of an EV equipped with the capabilities of a manual transmission.

Toyota's new EV can even alternate between the "control modes" of standard and manual driving. This is accomplished through the use of an H-pattern manual equipped with "pseudo-clutch" and "pseudo-shifter" inputs.

To get the complete feel of a manual transmission, the car is further complemented by a third pedal with a "pedal reaction force generator" that vibrates to simulate the feeling of a clutch dragging on a flywheel and can even mimic the car stalling.

But does it come with all the advantages of a manual transmission? Historically, manual transmissions were noticeably more fuel-efficient than automatic versions but that is no longer a concern for EVs.

Faking the feel of a manual transmission

Manual transmissions were also cheaper to purchase and cheaper to maintain but since Toyota has not released any pricing for the new EV it's hard to tell if this argument still applies. So, in the end, it all comes down to one question: does the EV manual transmission offer more control?

Toyota says its new patented system is designed to "provide an electric vehicle capable of enjoying a driving feeling like an MT vehicle without experiencing the difficulties peculiar to the MT vehicle." This begs the question: does the new invention only provide the feeling of a manual car without actually giving the vehicle increased control?

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This question will likely be answered once the vehicle goes into production however if the car only fakes the experience of a manual transmission, we would venture a guess that it would not be too popular. And with Ford's new patent filings revealing a design for a new type of manual box that only uses hand inputs and doesn't require a clutch pedal to shift, the EV may have some strong competition.

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