Do Any Electric Vehicles Have Manual Transmissions?
To shift or not to shift, that is a question often asked by those who are thinking about buying an electric vehicle. If you prefer the feel of a clutch pedal under your left foot to the effortless self-shift of an automatic transmission, you’ll want to know which EV models come with manual transmissions.
We won’t tease you with the answer. Although they are relatively rare compared to automatic EV transmission options, a few electric automakers currently (or may soon) offer cars with shift-it-yourself manual transmissions.
Electric vehicles with manual transmission options
Currently, only two manual transmission EVs are readily available. The Porsche Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo can be delivered with a two-speed rear axle transmission for a starting price of around $187,600.
Somewhat more affordable is the 2022 Audi e-tron GT. With a two-speed automated manual real axle transmission, the first all-electric car from Audi can be had for a starting price of around $101,000, advises Edmunds.
Manual EV that may be on the way
In early 2022, Toyota filed a patent for an all-electric vehicle that simulates the feel of driving a clutch-and-gearbox car. With an ersatz clutch, make-believe stick shift, and three-mode selector, the concept Toyota Sports EV will give drivers the experience of driving with a manual transmission. Unlike a gasoline-powered car, the electric motor in the proposed vehicle will never stall, explains MotorTrend magazine.
Drivers who like to put dirt roads under their wheels are looking forward to the release of an electric version of the oh-so-popular Jeep Wrangler SUV. Poised to provide the most realistic feel of any EV currently available, the futuristic six-gear manual transmission Jeep Magneto may roll off production lines in around three years, says Kelley Blue Book.
In 2019, Ford debuted a prototype EV Mustang with a six-speed manual transmission at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The electrified “Mustang Lithium” thrilled show attendees but plans to mass market the vehicle are on hold for now, explains TechCrunch.
Why do most electric vehicles have automatic transmissions?
Electric vehicles don’t need a clutch and gearbox because they have no gears. What suffices as a transmission in an EV is a very simple drivetrain that hums along at the same speed, whether the car is idling at a red light or zipping along at freeway speeds, explains CarsGuide.
The case for manual transmissions
In 2017, when combustion engines ruled the roads, transmission manufacturer TREMEC described several ways manual transmissions are superior to automatic.
1. Anyone can drive a vehicle with automatic transmission. This is not the case with a clutch and gear shift. Manual transmissions require a measure of piloting that showcases the driving enthusiast’s care and skill.
2. If you can drive a manual, you can drive practically anything from a motorcycle to a Model T to a farm tractor. Knowing how to finesse a clutch pedal and gear shift prepares a driver to handle virtually any vehicle.
3. Cars with manual transmissions are less likely to be stolen. Because fewer people know how to drive a manually-shifted vehicle, such cars are not an easy target. Edmunds concurs, noting that most car thieves are “just not that swift” and generally resort to stealing older, easier-to-steal vehicles in lieu of cars with a clutch pedal and gear shift. Another bonus to manual transmission vehicles is that they are also less likely to be borrowed.
The future of manual transmission EVs
These days, most drivers expect the ease of an automatic transmission. Whether enough drivers desire the old-school feel of a clutch to make mass production of manual transmission-emulating EVs worthwhile remains to be seen.