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Lexus Is Working on a Manual Transmission for Electric Vehicles

The Lexus Electrified Sport concept | Photo: Lexus
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Daniel Rufiange
The advent of EVs won’t necessarily lead to the extinction of the manual gearbox

•    Lexus is working on a manual transmission for electric vehicles.

•    The gearbox is being tested on the Lexus Electrified Sport concept, which could well replace the defunct LFA.

•    The authentic feel transmitted by the gearbox would be very advanced and could even cause the car to stall.

The number of new vehicle models equipped with manual transmissions continues its long decline. On the one hand, consumers are less interested, but manufacturers have less and less incentive to push them. They are often offered only with base-model versions that feature less equipment and are less popular with consumers. 

The shift to electric vehicles would seem to signal the death knell of the stick shift. But not all motorists are ready to say goodbye. Over the past two years, we’ve seen some companies work on development of a mechanical gearbox for use with electric motors. 

Add Lexus to that list. Last February, patent filings surfaced indicating that Toyota was working on a manual transmission for electric vehicles. Nearly a year later, we've learned that this wasn't just for show. Lexus, Toyota's luxury division, is seriously working on the technology, and confirmed as much at a recent conference in Europe. 

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The Lexus Electrified Sport concept - Back
The Lexus Electrified Sport concept - Back | Photo: Lexus

The system uses a traditional gear selector and makes use of a tachometer and a third pedal. We'll have to find a name for that pedal, as it's not connected to a traditional clutch. In fact, as you can guess, everything will be simulated electronically. What matters will be the sensation delivered to the driver. 

Takashi Watanabe, chief engineer for electrification plans at Lexus, described the technology as “a simulated drive force map with pedal and shift positions to replicate the feel of a manual transmission.” 

The realism would be successful to the point where the driver could even stall the car or back up when starting on a hill. A level of customization on the settings of the "box" will be possible, since everything is electronic. 

Lexus explained that the development project began with Lexus engineers reflecting on the aspects of traditional vehicles they liked, and what they would miss with electric cars. The manual transmission came up frequently in conversations.

Watanabe revealed the technology while standing in front of the Lexus Electrified Sport concept. Speculation is that model will be the electric successor to the Lexus LFA. He added that the project is seriously under development and could well find itself into the brand's future electric vehicles.

As for the concept the engineer spoke about, it is still being developed and could also well become reality.

The Lexus Electrified Sport concept - Profile
The Lexus Electrified Sport concept - Profile | Photo: Lexus

Takashi Watanabe a révélé cette technologie alors qu’il se tenait devant le concept Lexus Electrified Sport lors d’une conférence. La voiture, selon la rumeur, serait le successeur électrique de la Lexus LFA. Il a ajouté que le projet est sérieusement en cours de développement et qu’il pourrait même se retrouver sur les futurs véhicules électriques de la marque.

Quant au concept devant lequel l’ingénieur s’est exprimé, son développement se poursuit et il pourrait très bien devenir une réalité. 

Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists