Toyota and Ford have patented manual gearbox technologies on electric cars, bringing people closer to the world of electric
An electric car does not need, by its nature, a manual gearbox. Even cars with multi-gear transmissions, such as the two-speed Porsche Taycan Turbo S, have the gearbox only to provide a choice of the car’s performance.
The absence of the gearbox is one of the reasons that pushes some owners of thermal cars not to buy electric: for many the manual gearbox is a fundamental requirement in the driving experience, making it more engaging and visceral.
For other motorists, however, the gearbox conveys a greater sense of control of the car while driving. In the path that some car manufacturers are taking to bring people closer to the world of electric, therefore, there is also this issue to consider. For this reason, Toyota and Ford have patented manual transmission technologies on electric cars.
Emulating the physical sensation of driving a manually driven car
Regarding Toyota, in the past few weeks a series of patents from the automaker have appeared on the web that seem to depict a manual gearbox simulator for electric cars. The goal of the patents – published on 10 February 2022 – would seem to be to emulate the physical sensation of driving a manual transmission car.
A special controller alters the torque of the electric motor so that it looks more like a gas car. This controller is configured to store the shift reaction force characteristic by simulating the shift reaction force characteristic based on the shift operation.
Without going into further technicalities, the gearbox in question would seem to be made in the direction of satisfying the most nostalgic customers of the manual gearbox and not for performance needs. It is good to specify that the existence of intellectual property documents and patents does not guarantee the entry into production of a particular design or technology in the near future.
democratizing the new mobility
To date, several electric cars equipped with manual transmission have already been placed on the market, such as the Opel Manta GSe Elektromod, the Ford Mustang Lithium concept, the Jeep Wrangler Magneto or the Ford Bronco.
The Us Company Ford filed a patent for a manual gearbox with electric clutch on November 11, 2021. In the document Ford describes how this system could work, starting with a vehicle controller capable of operating the clutch via hydraulics, which is pressurized via a main cylinder.
When the driver switches to a different gear, the system automatically sends a signal that in turn drives the clutch, although it could also be switched off if the driver wants to have the full experience of enjoying a traditional manual transmission by operating the clutch itself.
Such a system would make manual transmissions a little more accessible for those who would otherwise have avoided them, although this patent represents a rather complicated configuration compared to a traditional gearbox.
In short, alongside futuristic innovations in the field of electric mobility (such as the road that recharges vehicles during the journey) there are technologies that seem to be steps backwards, such as the possible reintroduction of the manual gearbox, but which in reality always go in the direction of democratizing the new mobility.