Could Electric Cars Have A Manual Transmission?


Hello everyone and welcome! In this video we’re going to be talking about whether or not future electric vehicles could be using traditional manual transmissions. Now this is the second video of a five part series where i’ve partnered with Formula E to answer questions about electric cars and this topic was actually inspired by Renault season two Formula E car, which uses a two-speed gearbox matched with a single transversely mounted electric motor what’s super clever about their setup, is that they actually went a bit old-school and incorporated a manual gear stick, using cables and rods to switch between the two gears rather than the pneumatic paddle shifters which other teams are using. Renault’s solution is simpler and also lighter as it doesn’t require onboard pumps or air tanks for gear shifts. But could this be taken a step further and incorporate a clutch as well for street cars I spent some time chatting with the current Formula E champion Lucas Di Grassi, who spends his free time engineering electric bikes about this idea. So we have two questions that we really need to answer in order to discuss whether or not electric cars in the future could be using manual transmissions. First of all, is it possible? And second of all, is it logical? now the first question is it possible is a very simple yes, it’s it’s super easy to do if for example you just took a traditional manual transmission internal combustion engine vehicle and swap that internal combustion for an electric motor everything could work so you’d have your electric motor that would go to a clutch, that clutch would then rotate a lay shaft, the lay shaft allows you to choose between these two different gears you’ve got here. So in this example, just a two speed transmission which you’re using your manual gearshift to choose between one and two you could of course have more gears all that power is then sent to the rear differential or the driven wheels and that drives those rear tires. So ultimately yes, it’s it’s very simple to implement and a clutch could assist you in a scenario like this for gear shifts basically all you’re doing is swapping out the internal combustion engine for an electric motor of course you have to have the controllers in the battery and that kind of thing, but it could be done. The other question, is it logical? And this is probably you know the one that dictates whether or not it’ll actually be happening in the future and it doesn’t actually seem all that logical first of all electric motors don’t stall like internal combustion engines so when the vehicle is stopped in an internal combustion engine you need that clutch because you have a speed differential between your engine which is idling, lets say 800 RPM, 900 RPM versus the transmission where that isn’t rotating because it’s connected to your wheels now with an electric motor because you don’t stall you can start from zero RPM, you don’t actually need to you know use that clutch to start from a standstill you can actually just press on the throttle pedal, the accelerator pedal, and away you go so you wouldn’t need it for the start and ultimately the clutch portion of this isn’t really necessary so electric motors have a lot less you know inertia to them. There’s less weight in there you don’t have for example the crank shaft with the counterbalance of you know the different piston motions you don’t have to worry about a flywheel you don’t have to have balance shafts and engines that require balance shafts for vibration issues so you can remove a lot of weight from an electric motor you have a smooth torque delivery, so you don’t need that flywheel and so ultimately because it’s low inertia it means it can change its speed very quickly and this allows for very easy shifting if you had an electronic mechanism to shift Gears which knew you know which gear you’re going to next you could have very quick upshifts and downshifts for up shifts you could use regen to you know lower that motor speed very quickly, and you could apply some acceleration for rev-matching downshifts and do that very quickly so it will be capable of extremely quick shifts because the electric motors are low inertia and can change speed very quickly and finally which was discussed in the first video of this series you don’t actually need gears for a lot of electric vehicles you can get away without them. They just add complexity, they add weight, they add an efficiency loss, you’ve got all this power loss which is going to happen in here when you could just have this directly or just a simple gear reduction before driving a wheel and there’s a lot of benefits of just matching an electric motor with a wheel and having one at each corner rather than sending it through this complicated drivetrain where you’re going to have efficiency losses and for street cars where you know you’re only maybe accelerating up to a 100 mph tops for normal everyday cars one gear is perfectly acceptable for it, and in fact renault also moved away from using the two-speed manual shifting setup in favour of a single gear for reduced weight and reduced frictional losses while the more aggressive two-speed setup can allow for quicker starts or acceleration out of low speed corners it seems the trade-off for the multi-gear setup wasn’t worth it, and Renault’s design strategies continue to pay off as they’ve won all three season team championships in Formula E. Now does this mean that they couldn’t exist in the future for enthusiasts? I mean perhaps they could and there’s no reason really why they couldn’t and if you really do think about it even today looking at manual transmissions, are they logical? They’re really not it’s really for driving joy rather than a logical reason because there’s quicker transmissions out there there are more efficient transmissions out there we use these simply because they’re enjoyable to drive. So it would be cool to see if perhaps in the future we do get something with an electric powertrain, but that’s also using a traditional manual transmission, so a huge thank you to Formula E, i’ll include a link to their channel if you’d like to see more and thank you all for watching! If you have any questions, or comments feel free to leave them below.