At the moment, Toyota is working on an electric GR sports car that actually has a clutch pedal, a manual transmission, and even fake engine noises. It’s design to provide the same experience as an internal combustion engine, just with electric performance and zero emissions. While I think most enthusiasts would roll their eyes at an EV trying to be a gasoline car, Toyota might be onto something with the manual transmission and maybe BMW should look into it.
I know, electric cars don’t need multi-gear transmissions. Not only to transmissions make far more than enough torque to not require gears, but adding a transmission actually robs a little bit of efficiency from the electric motor. However, I’d be willing to sacrifice some efficiency in the name of engagement, which is exactly what internal combustion sports car owners do anyway. So that clears up the efficiency/need argument for manual EVs.
Then there’s the fun factor. OK, so adding a manual transmission to an EV might seem a bit phony because it isn’t technically required, so it seems superfluous. However, every internal combustion car could just come with a CVT, so an argument can be made that a manual is pointless in any other car, too. Manuals are now novelty, used for fun and engagement, regardless of the powertrain. So what’s the difference in an EV?
I’ve driven an EV with a manual transmission before and, while it wasn’t quite as fun as driving an internal combustion car with a manual, it was more fun than driving a normal EV. With normal EVs, once the thrill of its power fades, there’s really nothing left to do. A manual gives you something to do, some way to engage with the powertrain on a regular basis, which adds fun and character to the car. While manuals aren’t great for every EV application, I can certainly see them being fun in certain applications.
Do I think BMW will ever do this? No I don’t. Do I even think Toyota will actually release this? Probably not. I think this is an interesting technology that Toyota is tinkering with and that it will ultimately end up being scrapped. However, I do think it’s something worth exploring because if the public can get on board, brands might actually offer it. No, there’s no real reason to offer a manual in an EV but there’s also no real reason to do anything fun. Sometimes we need to have fun for the sake of having fun and that’s what manual transmissions are anyway. So why not make a manual EV?