While other automakers such as Mercedes have already stopped selling cars with manual transmissions, Honda’s one of the few brave enough to sell a car that’s manual-only: the Civic Type R. But that doesn’t mean you can expect future sporty Honda EVs to offer a manual driving experience. In fact, Honda recently confirmed that you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for Honda EVs with any sort of manual.
Speaking to Car and Driver at a roundtable interview, Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe and Shinji Aoyama, Honda’s head of electrification, threw cold water on the idea of a sporty EV with a traditional manual or even a simulated one. “Artificially, we can do it. Mechanically, it is not easy,” said Aoyama.
If you’re confused by the idea of an artificial manual transmission in an EV, it would likely be similar to the system Toyota recently patented that includes “a clutch, a gear shifter, and ‘virtual’ gear ratios” to mimic the feeling of driving a traditional manual. Aoyama doesn’t like that approach, saying such an idea was “like an extension of active sound control.”
That said, Honda still plans to offer EVs that are fun to drive. Mibe said he wants Honda’s EVs to be “edgy” and drive differently than their competition. But like Aoyama, he likes the idea of direct-drive better. “I’m not sure if we can replace the manual transmission,” Mibe said.
Instead, Honda plans to focus on “battery technology, as well as the packaging, programming, and overall engineering of electric motors and direct-drive units as important differentiating factors for electric vehicles and how they feel on the road.”
Presumably, they’re talking about sportier electric cars, not the upcoming Honda Prologue EV, which is built on GM’s Ultium platform and Honda recently admitted would drive pretty much the same as any other crossover built on the same platform.