Toyota is developing a manual transmission that it hopes will be used in future electric cars, with the intention of making electric cars more fun to drive for enthusiasts. The project is under the responsibility of Lexus, which will play a leading role in the development of all high-performance Toyota electric vehicles.
Combining a manual transmission with an electric powertrain may seem counterintuitive, but Lexus insists the technology’s scope goes beyond simply shifting gears.
Instead of physically mounting a manual transmission to the back of the electric motor, this technology uses a decoupled shift knob and clutch pedal that use tactile drivers to create a “manual” feel.
This is then combined with intelligent software and sound generators in the cabin to create a complete experience. Both elements are not physically connected to anything, but use technology already available in modern cars to create virtual feedback.
The virtual clutch pedal is not something new on the market. Hyundai uses this technology on its i20 supermini, while Koenigsegg has developed its own system on a complex multi-clutch transmission that debuted on the CC850 supercar. It recreates the feel of a mechanically linked clutch pedal using a tactile driver in the pedal itself, similar to the motors attached to modern electric power steering systems.