Toyota developed a prototype electric vehicle with a simulated manual transmission. It doesn’t have an actual transmission, hence the word “simulated,” but the electric motor is programmed to make the car behave like it does. It has a shifter and a clutch pedal, and a few journalists recently drove it. What did they think? They mostly liked it.
As we’ve covered in past patent stories, the car behaves just like it’s equipped with an internal combustion engine, which means bad shifts are punished, hill starts can be a challenge, and stalling is a very real possibility. Tim Stevens, writing for ARS Technica, said the system “works remarkably well at making driving an EV a lot more fun.” Patrick George from InsideEVs said, “it really does feel like a true manual” and that it’s “fun” to drive. The guys behind it clearly had fun; and it would appear that this system comes from a place of genuine, sincere love for the stick shift.”
That’s all well and good, but we haven’t driven it and, if you’re reading this, you probably haven’t either. Is a simulated manual EV worth all of the trouble? Both authors were keen to point out that none of this is real and it can be switched off at any time.
I get the sense that in day-to-day driving, this wouldn’t be much more than a party trick for a few weeks before it was unceremoniously shut off for good. In a real manual car, you don’t have a choice whether to drive a stick or not, but with Toyota’s system, it can all be disabled. That hurts the charm of a stick shift, where you have to accept both the good parts and the bad at the same time.
Is this something you would be willing to have in your personal car, or at least try? Tell us in the comments.
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