Toyota is aiming to introduce a simulated manual transmission for their electric vehicles (EVs) by 2026, offering customers a unique driving experience. The concept was initially showcased in a Lexus prototype and may be integrated into upcoming Toyota models. The simulated manual EV will imitate the sounds of engine revving and gear shifts, aiming to replicate the feel of driving an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle, which is absent in most EVs due to their silent operation.
During the Toyota Technical Workshop 2023 presentation, Takero Kato, president of the newly established BEV Factory division, announced Toyota’s plans for their next-generation BEV range set to debut in 2026. Kato stated that the company aims to provide a “wow” experience for their customers, with the simulated manual EV being one of the exciting surprises in store.
While other automakers such as Dodge and Abarth have already experimented with artificial engine sounds in their EVs, Toyota’s system takes it a step further. The intention behind the “manual EV” project is to recreate the driving experience of ICE-powered vehicles. These EVs will be equipped with a clutch pedal and gearshift lever, functioning just like the manual gearbox in traditional gas-powered vehicles. Consequently, the simulated manual EV will produce the typical engine revs and gear change sounds, feature specific power delivery mapping, and even stall if the clutch is mishandled during take-off.
There are indications from a previous patent filing that the simulated manual gearbox could also be employed in future hybrid vehicles, likely reserved for performance versions bearing the Gazoo Racing signature.
Toyota’s next-generation BEVs will be built on a new modular architecture and offer an impressive driving range of up to 1,000 km (621 miles) thanks to advancements in battery technology. The vehicle lineup will include hatchbacks, sedans, SUVs, and minivans, all designed with the assistance of Artificial Intelligence to optimize aerodynamics. Furthermore, the new Arene OS will enable sophisticated over-the-air updates, allowing drivers to customize their driving experience, including the option to adjust the simulated engine and gearbox noises.
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Toyota is currently conducting market research to gauge customer response to EVs that replicate the driving experience of ICE vehicles, as well as determining the price point consumers would be willing to pay for such features. Hiroki Najajima, Toyota’s Executive Vice President, stated that the commercialization of the manual EV technology will depend on these factors.