Simulated Gear Shifts Coming To Electric Dodge And Alfa Romeo Models

Scoop / 16 Comments

Although it's not a full-on manual experience, it sounds much more engaging than conventional EVs.

FCA US LLC, more commonly known as Stellantis North America, has filed a patent for technology that enables simulated gear shifts and driving modes in fully electric vehicles. With this technology, Stellantis will potentially join several other automakers currently exploring ways to make EVs more enjoyable to drive, or that already have. Hyundai, for instance, recently revealed the wild Ioniq 5 N EV, which has 641 horsepower and a simulated transmission called N e-shift that mirrors the behavior of a traditional dual-clutch gearbox.

Discovered by CarBuzz, the Stellantis patent was filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The system comprises several sensors and a controller for the electric drive module (EDM).

The EDM has a gear system linked to an electric motor, which is then configured to send drive torque to the driveline of an EV. A monitored set of parameters will determine drive torque output, thereby simulating conventional shift patterns of a transmission with four or more speeds.

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Typically, EVs have single-speed transmissions that are exceptional for quick, smooth getaways and highly refined commuting, but they do little to stir the emotions of an enthusiast. The Porsche Taycan is one of a few high-performance EVs with a two-speed transmission, but that still doesn't replicate the sensations of a conventional transmission. The patent goes so far as to admit that the downside of an EV is "the lack of a traditional driving/shifting experience, which could be monotonous and boring to the driver."

With enthusiast-minded brands like Dodge and Alfa Romeo under the Stellantis umbrella, and both set to unleash new EVs in the near future, it's no surprise that the company is exploring ways to make them more fun. Dodge has previously mentioned that the electric Charger Daytona SRT will use simulated gear changes to accompany its groundbreaking Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust.

The set of sensors will monitor driver input and respond accordingly. For instance, manually commanded shifts can be enabled, presumably via paddles, in normal or sport modes. More simply, the system can be set up to shift automatically like a conventional self-shifting transmission.

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In another example, the EDM will remain in a higher gear and only "shift" down when the driver floors the accelerator pedal. By decreasing the torque output of the EDM initially and then increasing it during a second simulated inertia phase, drivers will experience momentum more conventionally. Stellantis also mentioned that power-on upshifting can be replicated in an EV.

One very interesting implementation of the tech involves various driver-selectable modes with programmable variable throttle progression. For instance, Stellantis mentions drift/sand/mud/snow/rock/Baja modes, which would be a perfect fit for the future Ram 1500 REV.

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Another implementation of the technology involves a normal driving mode for dual-speed EDMs. The vehicle would start off in second gear ordinarily, but a mechanical detent at the bottom of the accelerator pedal could engage first gear, effectively creating a "kick down" sensation.

Another possibility is varying the front-to-rear torque split, another function that can be made driver-selectable, or adjusting the torque vectoring to initiate either more understeer or oversteer.

In short, the possibilities of the technology are endless. Stellantis' patent does not appear to make provision for the full manual experience whereby the driver operates a physical clutch, but the solutions it has come up with are probably more realistic. And, if you must have your EV with a genuinely fake manual, Toyota is working on one.


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