Lexus, Toyota’s luxury auto brand, is bringing the manual transmission back to the world of electric vehicles (EVs). The company is developing a manual transmission that will use haptic technology to mimic the feel of a traditional stick shift, with a gear stick and clutch pedal.
Lexus developing manual transmission for EVs
Lexus, Toyota’s luxury auto brand, is developing a manual transmission for electric vehicles (EVs). The company is looking to “augment an entire combustion-powered driving experience in a low-carbon EV,” according to Evo Magazine. Lexus’s electric manual transmission will use haptic technology to mimic the feel of a traditional stick shift, with a gear stick and clutch pedal.
However, these components won’t be connected; instead, software will coordinate their movements and provide audio and haptic feedback to the driver. The system will even adjust the electric powertrain’s torque in real-time.
This technology will be paired with Lexus’s steer-by-wire system, which will be present in all of its EVs from the 2023 RZ model onwards. Both systems represent a departure from the traditional mechanical connection to the driveline. Lexus has only combined the technologies in a working prototype based on the UX300e crossover.
It’s unclear how successful Lexus’s software-based electric clutch will be, as the Venn diagram of vehicles with stick shifts and EVs is small. In 2020, Hyundai introduced a virtual clutch for its i20 supermini, and Ford filed a patent for an electric-clutch manual transmission that would allow the driver to shift using only their hand. However, the company has yet to unveil a vehicle using this technology.
Overall, Lexus’s electric manual transmission represents an interesting effort to combine a traditional and engaging driving experience with the efficiency and environmental benefits of an EV. It remains to be seen if this technology will find a market among consumers.