Is Toyota looking to bring a bit more fun and engagement to its petrol-electric hybrid vehicles?
A patent filed in the US, unearthed and published by The Drive, shows the Japanese carmaker is working on a manual transmission for its hybrid cars that features a clutch that can either be controlled by the driver or the vehicle’s electronic control unit (ECU).
This patent was first filed with the Unites States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) back in August 2021, but was only made public this year.
In essence, this is not a clutch-by-wire system that’s controlled electronically by an actuator, but rather a system that uses a clutch master cylinder with two slave cylinders – one by the driver and the other by the ECU.
The system allows the driver to override what the ECU wants to do by depressing the clutch pedal and applying more pressure than what the ECU is doing. The patent lists this as a “sport mode”.
On the flip side, the ECU can cut in and de-clutch the engine from the wheels whenever it wants, which is important for hybrid cars that may need to do this to coast.
It’s unclear if this kind of technology will ever make it into a production vehicle.
It’s also unclear whether it would be used in a hybrid sports car.
If Toyota does bring something like this to market, it will be the first time since the Honda CR-Z that a hybrid vehicle has been offered with a manual transmission.
It should be noted the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system in the CR-Z manual could not operate in EV mode.
This isn’t the first time Toyota has flirted with the idea of implementing a manual transmission in an electrified vehicle.
It has previously filed a trademark with the USPTO for a simulated manual transmission designed especially for electric vehicles (EVs).
It operated like a regular manual transmission and had gear-like “stages”.