- Toyota has built an electric sports car prototype with a manual transmission and a clutch, per a report by Automotive News.
- Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda revealed the details after driving the prototype, and he also mentioned hearing engine noise in the cabin.
- Lexus—Toyota’s luxury division—has already experimented with a simulated manual, so it’s something the brands think could make EVs more engaging.
It seems inevitable that one day, possibly not many years from now, all new performance cars will be electric. That’s a sad thought for enthusiasts who love the extra engagement that manual transmission’s provide, as there currently aren’t any EVs in production that feature a shift-for-yourself setup. However, Toyota is working on an electric sports car that could change that, according to comments the company’s chairman, Akio Toyoda, recently made to Automotive News.
Speaking to the news outlet during the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend, Toyoda said he had driven a prototype built by Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s motorsport division. “You hear the engine noise inside the car and you have a manual transmission with a clutch,” he’s quoted as saying. “You truly do not notice you are driving an electric car—the only thing missing is the smell of gasoline.”
While Toyota hasn’t officially announced a new electric sports car, it has revealed a concept called the Sports EV (pictured above). Meanwhile, Lexus is planning an electric successor to the LFA supercar, and it has already experimented with a manual gearbox that simulates the feel of a traditional stick shift that might make an EV feel more engaging. There’s also the Lexus UX300e that the company retrofitted with a fake manual shifter and clutch.
It tracks that a similar setup is the one Toyoda experienced in the prototype. As for the engine noise inside the cabin that he mentioned, it’s unclear if that’s fake sound mimicking an internal-combustion engine or audio amplified from the car’s electric motors, like we heard in Porsche’s 718 Cayman GT4 ePerformance race car. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see whether Toyota can create a fake manual transmission for EVs that’s not purely theatrical.
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Eric Stafford’s automobile addiction began before he could walk, and it has fueled his passion to write news, reviews, and more for Car and Driver since 2016. His aspiration growing up was to become a millionaire with a Jay Leno–like car collection. Apparently, getting rich is harder than social-media influencers make it seem, so he avoided financial success entirely to become an automotive journalist and drive new cars for a living. After earning a journalism degree at Central Michigan University and working at a daily newspaper, the years of basically burning money on failed project cars and lemon-flavored jalopies finally paid off when Car and Driver hired him. His garage currently includes a 2010 Acura RDX, a manual ’97 Chevy Camaro Z/28, and a ’90 Honda CRX Si.