Gosh, those crazy electric cars. They're so different and confusing, eh?
We've now come across a new and thus-far unparalleled example of just how far people will go to avoid dealing with the realities of electric cars.
Which are, of course, smooth, quiet, and torquey, meaning they're fast off the line.
We already know the Gummint plans to require quiet electric cars to get noisier at low speeds, so that pedestrians deeply engrossed in their iPhonePodPads will hear them coming.
But this example has to do with the behavior of electric cars from the driver's perspective behind the wheel.
As you may know, electric cars dispense with the gear-shifting process that matches a combustion engine's peaky and narrow torque curve to the increasing road speed of the vehicle.
Once they try an electric car, most drivers fall in love with the seamless delivery of power, uninterrupted by rising and falling engine noises.
But Lotus apparently thinks that driving experience will be so strange, so odd, so foreign--so disturbing--to drivers of regular performance cars that it needs to remedy this alien driving experience.
According to a person close to Lotus Engineering, the company is experimenting with control software on its Lotus Evora 414E plug-in hybrid development car, which began testing last summer.
The new software will mimic the behavior of a multi-speed transmission. That is, under steady acceleration, every so often the system will actually cut power momentarily as if a transmission were shifting, before resuming the previous throttle setting.
Lotus also develops synthesized sounds, so perhaps the slight whine of the electric motor will be masked by the simulated roaring noise of a combustion engine?
Lotus Evora 414E extended-range electric car prototype
We think, frankly, this is a bizarre and idiotic idea.
It's even worse than the BMW engineers who very carefully tuned the hybrid transmission in the 2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6 (now out of production) to behave exactly like a seven-speed automatic.
Their drivers were, it seems, either too demanding or too delicate to cope with a powertrain that behaved slightly differently than what they were used to.
It's enough to make us want to bring back crank starting, which occasionally broke the driver's arm during the processing of firing up the engine.
Meanwhile, we trust Lotus will talk to the tens of thousands of electric-car owners who very much like the transmission-free driving experience of cars running in all-electric mode.