Toyota is considering fake engine sounds and a manual transmission for a future electric sports car, chairman Akio Toyoda said in a recent interview with Autocar. The aim is to replicate the full experience of a gasoline car—including some of the less-fun parts.
Toyoda, who recently stepped down as CEO and is the grandson of the the automaker's founder, said the sports car will drive and sound just like a combustion-engine car—without the smell of gasoline.
"You can actually hear the engine noises," Toyoda said, adding that "there is also a manual transmission and a clutch pedal."
2023 Toyota Supra
The manual gearbox and clutch won't be connected directly to the driveline, Toyota chief engineer Takashi Watanabe said in the same article. Instead, the car will simulate shifts and adjust torque, to the point where it could even be programmed to let a car roll back on hills—or even stall.
With a handful of exceptions, EVs don't have (or need) multi-speed transmissions of any kind. They may even hurt efficiency. But Toyoda is a big proponent of driver involvement, and manual gearboxes in performance EVs might be one way to achieve that.
The promise of driver involvement might explain why there's been so much talk of manual transmissions for EVs. Toyota's Lexus division announced last year that it was testing a software-based system to simulate manual shifting. And several suppliers, including ZF, have made an appeal for multi-speed transmissions for EVs. Leading engineers and R&D executives generally say it's not worth it though.
2022 Toyota GR86
The idea of a Toyota electric sports car isn't new. The automaker said it was working on one in 2012, and the idea of a manual transmission was also mentioned. In 2016, Toyoda took the lead of the company's electric car operations. In 2021 Toyota teased concepts previewing some of 30 new EVs globally by 2030, with a sports car among them.
Such a sports car might take advantage of the battery advances for the future outlined earlier this week—including a solid-state battery due in 2027, with the potential for 10-minute fast-charging.