Toyota is preparing to launch an electric vehicle that will simulate a manual transmission, with a faux stick-shift, clutch and even virtual rev sounds.
Electric cars do not change gears and a “manual electric car” would be purely cosmetic. But Toyota is moving forward with plans to make the driving experience more enjoyable for traditionalists who love internal combustion engines.
“Along with the improved cruise range and stylish design, we will offer our customers a truly ̵[ads1]6;wow!'” experience, said Takero Kato, president of Toyota’s newly established BEV Factory.
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Kato is leading the development of Toyota’s “manual electric car”, along with other models that will be launched from 2026 onwards.
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Manual transmissions in stick-shift cars were once ubiquitous, but have been dying out in the United States. The system requires drivers to operate a clutch and shift gears manually when the car changes speed.
The vast majority of gas-powered cars on the market today use automatic transmissions — which, as the name explains, handle gear changes automatically. Electric cars use electric motors that operate quietly and do not need to change gears at all.
Toyota’s “manual EV” will appeal to enthusiasts who love the roar of a petrol engine and the feeling of the car changing gears under their control. Software developed to simulate these sounds will “enhance the fun of driving,” Kato told The Wall Street Journal.
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Technology under development will allow Toyota EV owners to customize the rev sounds and ride feel of their vehicles to mimic a sports car or a classic car. The automaker is also striving to make batteries last longer at lower costs.
After focusing on hybrid technology, Toyota is striving to catch up with the electric car market with the launch of 10 new electric vehicles globally that will be produced at an annual production rate of 1.5 million by 2026.
“Over the next few years, we will expand our line-p in the important battery electric category,” Toyota president Koji Sato said in April.
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Toyota currently offers just three all-electric models and sold fewer than 25,000 last year, according to Reuters, compared with 2.6 million hybrids.
The automaker’s new production target for electric cars is 300,000 higher than previous forecasts, according to S&P Global Mobility.
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An investigation into the construction of a Tesla Model Y that an executive described to Automotive News as a “work of art” and “incredible” helped prompt the company to change to an “EV-first” mindset instead of designing battery-powered models by use the same construction as their internal combustion engine vehicles. A new unit led by Kato is focused on electric cars and will monitor their development.
Toyota aims to sell 3.5 million electric cars by 2030, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Fox Business’ Gary Gastelu contributed to this report.