Toyota, John Chow dot Com via YouTube
It’s old news now that Toyota wants to simulate a manual transmission in its fully electric vehicles with a shifter and clutch pedal, but what we didn’t know before is that it may retain one pesky feature of the real deal: Stalling. Yes, Toyota isn’t concerned with only the fun parts of driving stick making it into its EVs, but also the annoying parts. It’s all about the charm, I guess.
The Japanese automaker detailed how all of this would work in a recent patent document, creatively titled “Electric vehicle”. It starts out by stating the engineers’ belief that if the car didn’t ever stall, it would lead to “a sense of discomfort to the driver who knows the driving sensation of the MT [manual transmission] vehicle.” That might be taking it a bit far, but whether or not the automaker’s commitment to the bit is a little intense, the way the system works is pretty straightforward.
Along with the simulated manual transmission, the EV in question will also have a simulated tachometer and “idle speed”. If, while starting off in your simulated manual, you drop below this idle speed while slipping out the “clutch”, the car’s inverter will instantly set the electric motor(s) torque to zero. In other words, you’ll have no tractive power anymore and the car will roll if you’re on a hill. Whether there will be any clattering or simulated engine noise to go along with the stall was not stated in the patent.
After that, the document doesn’t really state what happens. If it’s like an actual manual car, you’ll have to cycle the ignition to get power back. Toyota does set up some guardrails to stalling, though. First of all, the entire “MT” mode can be shut off in favor of regular EV driving. It also says that if the car senses it’s in a situation where stalling would be particularly annoying in MT mode—like in traffic on a hill—it will place a message on the dash saying that you should’ve stalled, but because things are a bit tricky right now, it let you off with a warning. This is all done by a “Stall Avoidance Unit,” which can interrupt the simulated loss of power in situations where doing so might “induce a rear-end collision or traffic turbulence.”
The entire process is laid out in a flowchart, and Toyota also provides a graph for what the simulated torque shapes will look like in each gear in such a system. There is clearly a lot of thought being put into how this is all going to work—all in the interest of making driving an EV more difficult.
In this particular example, the car is front-wheel drive, although Toyota says the system could be applied to any electric vehicle drive configuration. While it’s fair to consider the idea little more than a convoluted gimmick, the automaker at least seems to be seriously considering how to retain driving enjoyment for enthusiasts in some way, shape, or form. And the way the company appears to see it, driving an EV with a manual without the proper tactile feedback—even negative feedback—is confusing, which is why it baked a “certain amount of shock” into the operation of the simulated manual in its prototype AE86 Corolla EVs.
“EVs don’t stall, so you don’t have to be precise about the clutch application,” Lexus President Takashi Watanabe said during a roundtable discussion earlier this month that The Drive attended. “But everybody half-clutches it and tries to match the revs, and so we made it so that it creates a certain amount of shock. You feel it.”
Returning to this patent, the document states that driving stick, even a simulated one, can admittedly be a “laborious operation.” However, it also goes on to note that the process “is indispensable for the driver who demands the enjoyment of operating the MT vehicle.” If making a simulated manual EV is what it takes to keep enthusiasts around, Toyota seems willing to try it.
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The post Toyota Wants Its Simulated Manual EVs to Roll Backwards and Stall Like the Real Deal appeared first on The Drive.