For electric cars, Toyota has patented a manual transmission


Toyota may be interested in preserving the manual transmission in electric automobiles. A series of patent filings discovered by Toyota BZ Forum users outline a method for electric vehicle drivers to alter gears.

Most electric automobiles have only one or two forward gears, and this would not be different here. The patent docs depict a shifter and clutch pedal that aren’t physically connected to the electric motor but can influence its functioning via software. Sensors would detect the clutch and shifter positions, and a controller would adjust motor speed to mimic the operation of a manual transmission.

Toyota has gone to great lengths to recreate the manual driving feel in an electric vehicle. Methods for modeling clutch pressure are described in the documents. Documents describe methods of simulating clutch pressure and shift reaction force, as well as what sounds like the equivalent of a tachometer, displaying a “virtual engine speed” that would change when the driver changes “gears” or engages and disengages the clutch.

Toyota is even considering applying for a patent for simulated stalls. One paper explains how the motor controller may cause a fake stall if the automobile comes to a stop without the driver engaging the clutch or if the simulated revs fall below the level at which a real internal-combustion engine would stall. Drivers can also opt for a traditional EV mode that does not require manual shifting.


Although it’s uncertain whether this concept will ever see the light of day, Toyota isn’t the only carmaker to suggest technological enhancements to the manual transmission. Ford has applied for a patent for an electronic clutch that would allow drivers to swap ratios without using the clutch.

In 2030, Toyota expects to introduce 30 electric vehicles under the Toyota and Lexus brands. Late last year, it showcased 12 electric vehicle prototypes, including an electric sports car that could be a good fit for a simulated manual gearbox. Toyota’s first mass-market EV is the 2023 BZ4X crossover, which is due in showrooms later this year, along with a Subaru twin called the Solterra. The BZ4X is also expected to serve as the basis for the Lexus RZ crossover due next year.


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Source: For electric cars, Toyota has patented a manual transmission

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