Toyota Testing Prototype EV With Faux Manual Transmission

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

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."

From AN:

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.

[Image: Toyota]

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Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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2 of 29 comments
  • Jalop1991 Jalop1991 on Jun 16, 2023

    so, Toyota wants to sell driving simulators.

  • Stuki Moi Stuki Moi on Jun 16, 2023

    The chairman of the world's most buttoned down and rational automaker, is the most hopeless automotive romantic since the Duesenberg brothers or something.

  • VoGhost Key phrase: "The EV market has grown." Yup, EV sales are up yet again, contrary to what nearly every article on the topic has been claiming. It's almost as if the press gets 30% of ad revenues from oil companies and legacy ICE OEMs.
  • Leonard Ostrander Daniel J, you are making the assertion. It's up to you to produce the evidence.
  • VoGhost I remember all those years when the brilliant TTAC commenters told me over and over how easy it was for legacy automakers to switch to making EVs, and that Tesla was due to be crushed by them in just a few months.
  • D "smaller vehicles" - sorry, that's way too much common sense! Americans won't go along because clever marketing convinced us our egos need big@ss trucks, which give auto manufacturers the profit margin they want, and everybody feels vulnerable now unless they too have a huge vehicle. Lower speed limits could help, but no politician wants to push that losing policy. We'll just go on building more lanes and driving faster and faster behind our vehicle's tinted privacy glass. Visions of Slim Pickens riding a big black jacked up truck out of a B-52.
  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys dudes off the rails on drugs and full of hate and retribution. so is musky.