Future Toyota EV sportscar could get a clutch and gearbox

    Toyota’s chairman has test driven an electric GR prototype and says the brand's EVs will feel like smash-hit ICE cars.

    Published On Jun 18, 2023 10:00:00 AM

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    Future Toyota EV sportscar could get a clutch and gearbox
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    Toyota Gazoo Racing (GR) has begun testing its first battery-powered prototype and company chairman Akio Toyoda is personally involved in its development to ensure it meets expectations, our sister publication Autocar UK reveals.

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    Toyota Gazoo Racing's BEV 

    Speaking at the recently concluded Le Mans 24 Hours, Toyoda revealed that his baseline expectations from the car are that it must be at least as good to drive as current combustion-engined models, which include the GR86, GR Supra, GR Yaris and GR Corolla.

    Toyoda said: “The starting point is not what powertrain the car has, but how fun it is to drive regardless of that powertrain. I actually had the opportunity to test drive a BEV GR we are working on recently. I don’t know if that car will make it to the market yet, but the first priority is that it needs to be fun to drive, no matter what powertrain they use.”

    Consequently, Toyoda also suggested that the car will be developed to have many characteristics of combustion-engined cars, including a clutch, gearbox and even making a sound to mimic engine noises.

    Toyota Gazoo Racing BEV to mimic an ICE car 

    “The biggest difference to other BEVs we are developing is that when you are in the GR BEV, you can actually hear engine noises, even if you can’t smell gasoline,” said Toyoda. “There is also a manual transmission and a clutch, and if you put someone in the car and ask them to drive it and guess the powertrain, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell you.”

    Toyoda’s reference to the manual gearbox adds credence to suggestions that the GR model could be co-developed with a Lexus equivalent, as last year, the luxury arm of Toyota revealed details of a manual transmission project it was working on for future BEVs.

    Lexus’ chief engineer, Takashi Watanabe, outlined that the gearstick and clutch wouldn’t be connected directly to the motor, but they would simulate shifts by adjusting the torque settings of the electric motor. He also suggested that it could be programmed to allow the car to roll back on a hill, or even potentially emulate a stall, just like an ICE-powered car.

    Underlining the prototype nature of the GR test car, and how its development showcases the company’s willingness to take on new ideas, Toyoda said: “Whether it makes it to the market or not, the company is trying to explore the idea of what it is that we shouldn’t lose in a car even if it becomes BEV.”

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    Toyota Cars

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