Toyota appears to be exploring the idea of using manual transmission (MT) systems for modern electric vehicles, at least based on several patents with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Toyota’s manual transmission patents hint at the company’s next move in the electric vehicle market.
Each of Toyota’s patent for manual transmission in EVs are listed below:
Patent 20220041155A1, first seen in BZ Forums, for Toyota’s EV with manual transmission refers to a controller configured to control the torque of the electric motor. It also mentions a shift reaction force generator that generates a shift reaction force when the driver operates the vehicles’ “pseudo-shifter,” providing an experience similar to manual gas-powered cars that use a stick shift and clutch pedal to switch gears. It seems Toyota’s EV MT design will also rely on similar tools to shift between gears, except the patents refer to them as the “pseudo-shifter,” “pseudo-gearshift” and “pseudo-clutch pedal.”
According to Patent 20220041062A1, Totyota’s manual EV calculates motor torque using an MT vehicle model that simulates manual ICE vehicles with internal combustion engines.
“In the first operation mode, an operation amount of a pseudo-clutch pedal and a shift position of a pseudo-gearshift are input to the MT vehicle model to reflect operation of the pseudo-clutch pedal and operation of the pseudo-gearshift in electric motors control,” the patent reads.
Automatic vs. Manual Transmission
Electric vehicles function more like cars with automatic transmissions. Manual transmission systems have been difficult to bring into electric vehicles, partly due to the torque provided by EV motors.
Automatic vehicles have steadily taken over the global car market, particularly in the United States. However, manual cars are still popular around the world. As per Statista, four out of ten light vehicles produced worldwide are still equipped with manual transmissions. Meanwhile, automatic cars represent around 34% of the global share.
In the United States, automobiles with automatic transmissions make up most of the vehicle market. However, manual transmission cars, which some refer to as stick shifts, are still popular in Europe and Asia.
Manual vehicles are usually cheaper than their automatic counterparts, and they are also easier to maintain. One of the main reasons stick shifters remain popular is because they provide a better driving experience. Manual cars provide drivers with more control over how the car operates, providing opportunities for fun and unique driving experiences on the open road. People who love to actually drive or race typically prefer manual cars.
Toyota’s manual transmission patents appear to be for those drivers. The Japanese automaker may want to produce manual EVs to cater to drivers who enjoy being behind the wheel.