Electric cars don’t need multi-speed transmissions but, an an effort to recapture some of the feel of internal-combustion cars, Stellantis is considering making single-speed EV transmissions behave like they have multiple gears.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in September published a Stellantis patent application titled “Simulated Shifts and Modes for Battery Electric Vehicles Driving.”
The patent describes adjusting the torque output of motors to simulate the shift points “of a predetermined conventional automotive automatic transmission having four or more speeds.” The goal of the patented system is to create a more involved driving experience.
Most production EVs have single-speed transmissions (the Porsche Taycan being a notable exception with its 2-speed transmission) because they don’t need the additional gears. Electric motors produce maximum torque at any speed, so there’s no need for different gear ratios to match rpm with wheel speed.
However, Stellantis believes the lack of shifting “could be monotonous or boring to the driver.” Furthermore, the automaker claims in the patent application that simulated shift points could be combined with programmable drive modes, or even the use of torque vectoring to trigger oversteer or a “crab walk” function, in order to create a “more immersive and fun” driving experience.
Simulating shift points also wouldn’t require much additional hardware, according to Stellantis. Sensors would tell a control module to temporarily alter motor torque output at points when an actual transmission would be shifting. The patent application discusses simulated power-on upshifts, manual shifting, and a kick-down detent in the accelerator pedal that would trigger a “downshift” when the pedal is pushed past a certain point, simulating the behavior of automatic transmissions.
Stellantis is planning a Dodge electric muscle car, based on the Charger Daytona SRT Concept first shown in 2022. The model is expected to serve as the de facto replacement for the current gasoline Charger and Challenger going out of production this year. A performance-focused EV like that seems like a good fit for a new feature designed to increase driver involvement, but we now know Stellantis is going a different route.
A Stellantis spokesperson confirmed to Motor Authority the production variant of the Charger SRT Daytona Concept will feature a multi-speed transmission. That means real shift points, not simulated ones. The transmission is one of of three patent-pending technologies on the concept that are likely to see their way to a production car, along with the R-Wing aerodynamic front wing and Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust sound generator, designed to provide an aural replacement for engine noises.
Other automakers are also trying to give EVs some of the behavior of internal-combustion cars to make them more engaging. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 N has an N e-shift function that Hyundai said simulates the feeling of an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic. Volkswagen has said the ID.GTI electric hot hatch concept can be programmed to behave like classic GTI models. Toyota is also considering putting a physical shifter and clutch pedal in an electric sports car, albeit not connected to the driveline.
So while there is no guarantee Stellantis’ simulated shifting system will see production, it’s possible that we’ll see this idea resurface at some point.
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