Toyota wants to give electric vehicle drivers the kind of engagement that comes with a manual transmission.
First seen on bz Forums, Toyota lodged eight different patents with the US Patent and Trademark Office in June 2021 for a manual transmission of sorts for EVs.
“The controller of the electric vehicle is configured to control the torque of the electric motor using the MT vehicle model based on the operation amount of the accelerator pedal, the operation of the pseudo-clutch pedal, and the shift position of the pseudo-shifter,” the company says in one its patent filings.
In other words, Toyota has patented a transmission that can be operated like a regular manual transmission and has gear-like “stages” as well.
How Toyota has done this is through a fake clutch and gear selector that electronically operates a manual transmission.
“The arrangement and operating feeling of the pseudo-clutch pedal [and pseudo-shifter] are equivalent to those of the real MT vehicle,” said Toyota in another of its patent filings.
Toyota said its aim with this EV manual transmission “is to provide an electric vehicle capable of enjoying both driving like an MT (manual transmission) vehicle and driving as a normal electric vehicle without unsafety and anxiety”.
The Japanese automaker details in its patent filings that this manual-shifting function can be switched off if desired.
“The driver can also drive the electric vehicle with its original performance by selecting the second mode by the mode selector,” says Toyota.
“In other words, the driver can enjoy the ease of driving and acceleration performance, which are one of the features of the electric vehicle.”
Manual transmissions in EVs are extremely rare, with one of the most recent examples being the Jeep Wrangler Magneto EV concept.
It’s powered by an axial flux electric motor with 213kW of power and 370Nm of torque, mated with a six-speed manual transmission, and has a redline of 6000rpm.
Most EVs use a single-speed transmission, with the Porsche Taycan featuring a two-speed transmission.
Manual transmissions have been on the decline for a number of years now.
In the year 2000, more than a quarter of passenger car sales and more than a third of SUV sales in Australia were of models equipped with a manual transmission.
10 years later, those figures were down to 22.81 and 16.32 per cent, respectively, according to figures supplied by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).
By 2020, they had sunk to just 5.07 per cent of passenger cars and 1.15 per cent of SUVs.
Just 11,282 manual-equipped cars and 5271 SUVs were sold in 2020, a dramatic drop from figures of 168,414 and 45,880, respectively, in 2000.
While Toyota appears to be wanting to keep the manual transmission alive in the electric age, it’s removed some of the manual options from its local line-up.
The Corolla and regular Yaris lost their manual options in 2021, with the 2022 RAV4 now auto-only, too.
All is not lost, however. Enthusiast options like the GR Yaris and 86 still offer a manual, and a manual Supra is rumoured to be in the works.
MORE: By the numbers: the decline of the manual transmission