EVs & Mobility

This article was published on February 14, 2022

All EVs have automatic transmission… but Toyota begs to differ

How about manual gear-shifting?


All EVs have automatic transmission… but Toyota begs to differ
Ioanna Lykiardopoulou
Story by

Ioanna Lykiardopoulou

Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives. Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives.

This is something you might not know: almost all EVs are automatic. 

You’ll be hard pressed to find one with a gear stick. Why, you ask? Because EVs simply don’t need more than a single gear

I know, a stick shift car feels empowering, so why haven’t automakers thought about a “best-of-both-words” solution and put one in an EV?

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Oh wait, they have. Kinda.

Toyota’s idea

Yep, the carmaker is flirting with manual transmission and a clutch for… EVs?!

At least that’s the info we got from a series of patents filed to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and unearthed by BZ Forums

Let’s take a closer look at the latest filing, published on the February 10, 2022: 

toyota patent manual transmission ev
Image: USPTO

The abstract reads: 

The controller of the electric vehicle is configured to control the torque of the electric motor using the MT vehicle model based on the operation amount of accelerator pedal, the operation amount of the pseudo-clutch pedal and the shift position of the pseudo-shifter used by the operation of the reaction force actuator.

The controller is configured to store shift reaction force characteristic simulating the characteristic of the shift reaction force according to the operation of the shifter. Then, the controller is configured to control the shift reaction force output by the shift reaction force generator according to the operation of the pseudo-shifter using the stored shift reaction force characteristic.

Okay, I’m no engineer but here’s what I understand: 

  • There’s an EV mechanism that can switch between “control modes” of standard automatic and manual driving. 
  • This mechanism uses “pseudo-clutch” and “pseudo-shifter” inputs to adjust the torque produced by the electric motor. 

But given that the prefix “pseudo-” is used so much, I’m led to believe that this controller is more a symbolic function than a performance-based one. In other words, it’s all about the nostalgia of manual gear-shifting. 

As much as I find it unlikely for a company to invest money on basically useless tech, I get it. Dressing the new with the familiarity of the old is a proven marketing technique. 

Let’s not forget that Ford created a petrol-scented perfume for those who wanna go electric, but miss the ol’ scent of gasoline too much. 

Under this light, Toyota’s EV gear stick patent actually makes sense.

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