With the proliferation of electric vehicles, the manual gearbox is on its deathbed. Or is it? Toyota wants to save the do-it-yourself transmission by developing a new type of gearbox that would allow drivers to row their own gears as they do today in a gasoline car. The Japanese automaker filed a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office a few months ago, but it was only published earlier this week.
Don’t think of it as an old-school manual because it’s not. Instead, it uses a fake shifter and fake clutch, along with a three-mode selector and a controller that mimics the operation of a traditional gearbox. Some will be happy to hear that unlike cars running on gasoline, there’s no risk of stalling the engine. Ok, but how does it actually work? Allow us to explain.
Once the driver uses the transmission shifter, the electric motor’s controller decreases or increases the voltage to imitate the torque available through each gear. Toyota has engineered the manual gearbox with three operating modes, including an automatic mode that works as a regular EV. A potential production car with a manual would indeed have a clutch pedal even though it wouldn’t technically operate a clutch.
That voltage we mentioned earlier is modified to make the driver switch gears whenever there’s not enough torque. Alternatively, Toyota is developing the novel gearbox to also mimic a dual-clutch automatic transmission by allowing the driver to switch gears without having to press the clutch pedal. The Japanese automaker is willing to go the extra mile by making the gearbox learn the driver’s profile and tweak the settings accordingly for a more enjoyable experience.
We wouldn’t get our hopes up too high yet since a patent doesn’t always materialize into an actual product. Should Toyota decide to put the manual gearbox for EVs in production, it would make sense to install it in that orange sports car with Gazoo Racing branding it teased a few months ago.
Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office