Toyota Testing Prototype EV With Faux Manual Transmission
Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda recently discussed a sporting EV prototype the company has been working on, noting that the model has the simulated manual transmission that’s been the subject of much controversy. Many have claimed a stick-shift electric wouldn’t happen, as it would add cost and needless amounts of complexity for a brand that’s traditionally been averse to both concepts.
However, the brand seems to be running with the concept. Lexus had already toyed with the idea and Akio is now praising the unit that’s been equipped with the Toyota-branded prototype.
The company’s Gazoo Racing division is presently developing the EV to see just how closely it can simulate the experience of sporting gasoline vehicles — with Toyoda-san hyping the program to Automotive News from the sidelines of the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race.
“You hear the engine noise inside the car and you have a manual transmission with a clutch," Toyoda said on June 10th. "You truly do not notice you are driving an electric car — the only thing missing is the smell of gasoline."
Toyoda said a decision on whether the GR electric sports car will be brought to market has not been made.
If it goes into series production, the Gazoo car could be the pinnacle of Toyota’s electrification push, just as the GranTurismo Folgore high-performance coupe is for Maserati and production models derived from the Mission X hypercar are for Porsche.
Toyota previously equipped a simulated manual transmission to a customized Lexus UX300e. It’s likewise supposed to deliver an all-electric performance vehicle that’s rumored to serve as the spiritual successor to the Lexus LFA. Such a vehicle seems an ideal choice for the faux manual. But it’s not clear how the enthusiasts would respond to its inclusion.
The automotive community is fairly divided in terms of supporting electrification. Despite offering numerous benefits, EVs have some glaring shortcomings engineers have yet to resolve. Some of the surrounding connectivity issues have also been an issue for consumers.
However, it sounds like Toyota is wondering if it could bridge the gap between camps by offering a howling EV that felt more like a traditional sports car. In addition to boasting a “manual gearbox” the GR prototype also makes the kind of noises one would expect from a high-strung combustion vehicle. We just don’t know how it’s achieved.
Then again, perhaps this is all nothing. Despite Toyota having recently assured the public that it’s committed to all-electric vehicles, it’s been one of the biggest holdouts. Instead, the company has been dabbling with a myriad of powertrains and hasn’t offered many all-electric products thus far. Though it claims to have set a sales goal of 3.5 million EVs per year by 2030.
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