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Toyota files patent applications for manual transmissions for EVs

Though we're still unlikely to see a bunch of electric cars zipping around and getting bang-shifted like an old Corolla.

2023 Toyota BZ4X
Toyota's at least considering a world with manually shifted EVs, and that's cool.

I love a manual transmission. It's an excellent way to keep my brain engaged when I'm stuck in boring traffic, and it's a lot of fun on a spirited drive. Unfortunately, most Americans either disagree with me, or they just don't know how to use one. As such, we're seeing the number of available manuals on new cars dwindle, and that seems likely to continue as electric cars become more prevalent.

But what if electric cars could have a manual transmission? It would let you shift with a "clutch" and a gear stick when you wanted, but you could just let it drive along without shifting gears when you didn't want to bother with it. This is a future that Toyota seems to be at least thinking about, going by a report Friday by Teslarati.

By thinking about it, I mean that Toyota has issued a bunch of patent applications for a manual transmission to be used with electric cars. The Toyota system uses a bunch of pseudo- prefixes for everything -- pseudo-clutch pedal, pseudo-gearshift -- so it may be more like shifting gears in an arcade racing game than in an actual car, but I'll take what I can get.

The trick to making a manual transmission work in an EV is knowing when and by how much the motor should reduce its torque to facilitate shifting. Toyota's patent application shows a motor controller that models its output based on an internal combustion-powered vehicle. Think of it like the difference between an original NES console and an emulator that's half the size and can run hundreds or thousands of games from a single SD card. They do the same thing, but with different technology.

While it seems pretty unlikely that Toyota would ever spend the time and money necessary to not only fully develop this technology but to get it through all the various layers of governmental red tape to get it to production, it's still cool to think about.

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