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Stellantis Files Patent for Simulated Gear Shifts in Electric Vehicle Transmissions

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Simulated Gear Shifts in EVs

In a notable departure from the conventional approach to electric vehicle (EV) transmissions, Stellantis has sought to introduce a novel concept aimed at replicating the familiar sensation of gear shifts in internal-combustion vehicles. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently unveiled a Stellantis patent application titled “Simulated Shifts and Modes for Battery Electric Vehicles Driving.”

Traditionally, electric vehicles have operated efficiently with single-speed transmissions, a setup that caters to the inherent characteristics of electric motors, which deliver peak torque across varying speeds, negating the need for multiple gears to optimize power delivery to the wheels. However, Stellantis has recognized that the absence of gear shifts in EVs may lead to a perceived lack of engagement for the driver.

The patent application elucidates the company’s vision of adjusting the torque output of electric motors to emulate the shift points found in a conventional automotive automatic transmission with four or more speeds. The primary objective of this patented system is to inject a heightened sense of involvement and interaction into the driving experience of electric vehicles.

One might wonder why this departure from the single-speed norm is deemed necessary. Stellantis believes that the absence of shifting in EVs could potentially result in a monotonous or unexciting driving experience. Moreover, the patent application outlines how simulated shift points could be seamlessly integrated with programmable drive modes or even harnessed in conjunction with torque vectoring to induce oversteer or implement a “crab walk” function, thus elevating the driving experience to a more immersive and enjoyable level.

Crucially, Stellantis contends that implementing simulated shifting doesn’t entail a significant increase in hardware complexity. The proposed system would rely on sensors to communicate with a control module, enabling temporary adjustments to motor torque output at specific instances when a traditional transmission would typically undergo a gear change. The patent application elaborates on various simulated maneuvers, including power-on upshifts, manual shifting, and the incorporation of a kick-down detent in the accelerator pedal, designed to trigger a “downshift” when the pedal is depressed beyond a certain point, emulating the behavior of automatic transmissions.

Stellantis has plans to introduce a Dodge electric muscle car, drawing inspiration from the Charger Daytona SRT Concept initially showcased in 2022. This model is poised to serve as the de facto successor to the current gasoline-powered Charger and Challenger, set to conclude production this year. While a high-performance electric vehicle appears to be an ideal candidate for the introduction of this innovative feature aimed at enhancing driver engagement, Stellantis has taken an unexpected turn.

A spokesperson from Stellantis has confirmed that the production version of the Charger SRT Daytona Concept will indeed feature a multi-speed transmission, characterized by real shift points, as opposed to the simulated ones detailed in the patent. This transmission represents one of three patent-pending technologies integrated into the concept, with the others being the R-Wing aerodynamic front wing and the Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust sound generator, designed to replicate the auditory experience of traditional engine noises.

Stellantis isn’t the only automaker exploring ways to infuse EVs with the dynamic characteristics of internal-combustion cars to create a more engaging driving experience. For instance, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N incorporates an N e-shift function, simulating the sensation of an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Volkswagen, too, has expressed its intent to program the ID.GTI electric hot hatch concept to mirror the behavior of classic GTI models. Additionally, Toyota has contemplated the inclusion of a physical shifter and clutch pedal in an electric sports car, although these components would not be functionally linked to the driveline.

While there’s no certainty regarding the eventual production of Stellantis’ simulated shifting system, it remains a compelling idea that may resurface in the automotive industry’s ongoing pursuit of refining the EV driving experience.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Simulated Gear Shifts in EVs

What is Stellantis’ patent about?

Stellantis’ patent focuses on simulating gear shifts in electric vehicle (EV) transmissions to enhance the driving experience.

Why do traditional EVs have single-speed transmissions?

Most EVs use single-speed transmissions because electric motors provide maximum torque at any speed, eliminating the need for multiple gears.

What’s the goal of Stellantis’ simulated shifting system?

The aim is to recreate the sensation of gear shifts in internal-combustion cars, making the EV driving experience more engaging and enjoyable.

How does the simulated shifting system work?

Sensors communicate with a control module to temporarily adjust motor torque output, emulating gear shifts at specific moments during driving.

Are there any other automakers exploring similar concepts?

Yes, other automakers like Hyundai and Volkswagen are also working on technologies to make EVs mimic the behavior of traditional vehicles for a more engaging drive.

Will Stellantis’ simulated shifting system be implemented in production vehicles?

While it’s not confirmed, Stellantis is actively considering this innovation, and it may reappear in future EV models.

More about Simulated Gear Shifts in EVs

  • Stellantis Patent Application – The official patent application for Stellantis’ simulated shifting system for EVs.
  • Hyundai Ioniq 5 N – Information about Hyundai’s N e-shift function in the Ioniq 5 N.
  • Volkswagen ID.GTI – Details about Volkswagen’s ID.GTI electric hot hatch concept and its programmable behavior.
  • Toyota Electric Sports Car – Information about Toyota’s plans for an electric sports car with a physical shifter and clutch pedal.

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