Toyota has patented a new type of manual gearbox that it hopes to install in its electric cars. The electric car market is currently dominated by Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S, but this patent could give Toyota the edge it needs to compete with these two companies. The patent is for a manual gearbox that uses magnets instead of gears, which would provide more torque and be easier to use.
"[Toyota] filed the patent on February 22. According to the patent's description, it proposes using two rotors (one for odd-numbered gears and one for even) inside the transmission. These rotors would be kept in place by the pressure of a magnetic force to allow for quiet shifting," reports Ars Technica.
The lower gear would be pushed inwards by centrifugal force, and the magnets in the rotors would propel it forward until it engages with another rotor. The reverse process happens when shifting up through the gears.
"Since there are no physical connections involved due to the magnets, less power is required to shift gears," states Engadget. Instead of using two separate mechanisms (one for even gears and one for odd), this system would only require one single mechanism that could switch between an even-numbered gear train and an odd-numbered gear train, simplifying its construction. The gear lever itself will not move; instead, the gearbox will 'sense' the driver's intention to upshift or downshift and automatically move the rotors accordingly.
If implemented successfully, this patent from Toyota could revolutionize how we think of manual gearboxes. Not only would it become easier to change gears, but it would be a lot quieter as well. According to Ars Technica, there have been no reports on when this technology would reach production models yet.