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Pretend Gearchange for Electrics

What puts you off electric motorcycles? If it’s the lack of gearchanging and involvement with rising and falling engine revs, then Toyota may have something for you. The company has been working on a simulated manual transmission for electric cars since early 2022 and there’s no reason why e-motorcycles won’t be able to use the same kit.

Drivers get a ‘manual’ gear-lever and clutch, but the actual changes are simulated by onboard electronics. In late 2022 the company installed the system in a Lexus UX300e, and Takashi Watanabe, Chief Engineer of Lexus’ electric vehicle department at the time, described how it felt. “From the outside, this vehicle is as quiet as any other BEV. But the driver is able to experience all the sensations of a manual transmission vehicle. This gave us so much fun that the project is now under serious development.” The latest incarnation of Toyota’s virtual transmission offers up to 14 gears.

Jim Freeman, Chair of the BMF, wasn’t convinced. “Why bother? On the other hand, putting a gearbox, a real one, onto Evs is a very valid idea. Rumour has it that it could double the open road range of many Evs , whether on 2 or 4 wheels. Which is probably the single most valid criticism of the EV, so why hasn’t it been done already?”

Written and top image by Peter Henshaw