Lexus Is Developing a 'Manual Transmission' for High-Performance EVs

The manual gearbox is all part of Lexus’ plan to recreate the traditional driving experience in its high-performance electric cars.

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A photo of the front end on a Lexus EV.
Lexus: What you looking at?
Image: Lexus

With the influx of electric vehicles being developed by anyone and everyone right now, we always assumed that the switch to battery power would lead to the death of the manual gearbox. But, Lexus and Toyota appear to be working on a way to replicate the experience of driving stick in future high-performance EVs.

According to a report from Evo, Lexus is developing a manual transmission to try and make EVs more engaging to drive. Apparently, it’s all part of the automaker’s efforts to recreate the “entire combustion-powered driving experience” in an emission-free electric car.

Instead of simply bolting a manual gearbox to an electric motor, Lexus will use an unconnected gear stick and clutch pedal to keep you involved in the whole experience of driving. To make it all feel real, the automaker is experimenting with haptic drivers to give you feedback and resistance whenever you change gear. Evo reports:

“This is then combined with clever software and sound generators within the cabin to create a complete experience. Both elements are physically connected to, well nothing, but utilize technology already available on today’s cars to create virtual feedback.”

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Toyota and Lexus engineers will also work to augment the torque being delivered from the electric powertrain. This, Toyota says, means it will be able to recreate “any engine and transmission combination through both sound and torque deliveries from the powertrain.”

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Pascal Ruch, TME vice president in charge of Lexus Europe, said: “All future development will be based on the principle of leveraging electrification to reinvent the driving experience. We want our vehicles to be truly enjoyable to drive.”

A photo of a blue Lexus UX 300e plug-in hybrid SUV.
Lexus is testing the augmented gearbox on a UX 300e.
Image: Lexus
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The Japanese automaker has already built a working prototype based on its UX300e electric crossover. In the test vehicle, engineers have mapped the engine and transmission feel of a petrol engine. The test car also has a rev counter and could one day be fitted with motors in the seats and other interior features to help recreate the rumble and feel of an engine.

It all sounds very cool, and could be a fun way to stay engaged in the experience of driving an EV.

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But what do you think? Does the fact that it’s not affecting the drive sway you one way or the other? Or, are you happy that you’ll be able to play at manual driving without having to worry about ever stalling?