A new patent seems to be exclusively focused on giving drivers engagement.
We've waxed lyrical about the benefits of both automatic and manual gearboxes, but there's no doubt that the manual option is the transmission of choice for enthusiasts. This is purely down to the way that such a transmission feels, and thankfully, a number of manufacturers are sticking with it for the time being.
The Toyota GR Supra is finally getting a three-pedal setup, and the upcoming GR Corolla will be similarly equipped. But as we've come to realize, when all cars are electric, we won't be fighting over the choice of a manual or an auto; we won't even have a transmission at all. Or will we?
A user on bzforums.com recently came across a new patent that Toyota has filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It was filed in June last year and published a few days ago, and pertains to an invention for an electric vehicle with a manual transmission. As we know, transmissions of any sort are rare in EVs, and while the Porsche Taycan has a two-speed gearbox, it's not one that you can shift yourself. A gearbox is used to dole out specific torque levels to help make acceleration smooth, and an EV uses coding to achieve the same thing, so what's going on here? Is this a manual with no clutch, and if so, how would that work in an EV? As it turns out, there's no gearbox at all.
Simply put, Toyota's invention proposes simulating the feel of a gearbox through software, and the only reason that Toyota lists for such an endeavor is increased driver pleasure. The idea is that the software could simulate the feel of gradual acceleration increases per gear, as well as clutch engagement and the throw of a shift lever. Thus, a future electric Toyota GR Supra could be equipped with both a clutch pedal and a gearstick, but instead of a mechanical connection, these would be tethered to sensors that could tell the car how to behave.
Of course, a manual can sometimes be a drag, particularly in traffic, so the patent goes on to suggest that a dial could be fitted to switch from an EV mode, with traditional electric drive characteristics, to a manual mode, in which the clutch and gear lever could be turned on, so to speak. Sure, this invention will never provide the same vibrations, responses, and feelings that a true manual would, but it's better than nothing.