Can Electric Cars Have A Manual Transmission?
In the era of digital everything, driving a car that doesn’t require an electronic transmission might seem old-school. But with manual transmissions on the decline and more manufacturers offering automatic transmissions only, there are fewer and fewer cars available with a stick shift. If you’re thinking about switching from gas to electric as a way to reduce your carbon footprint and lower your fuel costs, you might be concerned about losing the manual transmission option — after all, the manuals have almost disappeared from new car showrooms.
But here’s some good news: it is possible to buy an electric car with a manual transmission! There just aren’t very many models from major automakers that offer that option. Luckily, if you want a manual transmission in your electric car, there are plenty of aftermarket solutions available for the most popular makes and models. Here’s what you need to know about how electrified manual transmissions work.
Manual Transmission Electric Cars: Pros And Cons
The apparent advantage of a manual transmission is that it gives you control over the car’s acceleration and speed. You might want to shift up or down to make the car travel more efficiently or to slow down if you’re driving in a heavy traffic situation to conserve energy. You also have the option of shifting gears manually, which is great for drivers who need to change their driving style. You may want to shift into a lower gear if you’re driving up a steep hill or shift into a higher gear if you’re driving on a flat road and want to get to your destination as quickly as possible.
Conversely, an automatic transmission will shift gears automatically based on the driving conditions. If you need to go more slowly or use a lower gear (like when driving up a hill), the automatic won’t let you do that. Manual transmissions also tend to be cheaper than automatic transmissions. And because an electric car is essentially an electric motor attached to a transmission, adding a manual transmission to an electric car won’t change the energy efficiency of the car. But, because manual transmissions are less popular, they’re usually available in a smaller selection of models than automatics. Manuals are also more likely to be found on used models than new ones.
How Do Manual Transmissions Work In An Electric Car?
Electric cars don’t have engines — they have motors. But any car (gas or electric) has to have a transmission to get the power from the engine to the wheels. So, even though electric cars don’t have engines, they still need transmissions. Manual transmission conversions are pretty straightforward: you take the transmission out of a manual-equipped gas car, and then you use that to power the motor in an electric car.
Automatics can be used for manual transmissions, too, and vice versa. Automatic transmission manufacturers create parts that can be used to make both automatic and manual transmissions out of electric motors. This is one reason why you see fewer manual transmission electric cars on the road. Manual transmission conversions are a little trickier than automatic conversions. The thing about electric motors is that they don’t have a throttle like gas engines do: you can’t just press down on the gas pedal and go faster.
Manual transmission electric car kits have to regulate the speed of the car based on what the driver wants, so they include some kind of throttle. Typically that means installing a device called a throttle pedal — like the kind you’d find in a regular car. Manual transmission conversions can also be a little more expensive than automatic transmissions since they require a few extra parts to make them work.
Manual Transmission Conversion Kits
There are a few different companies that offer manual transmission conversion kits for popular electric cars. But which are the best manual transmission conversion kits? And where can you find them? Drive eXchange — Drive eXchange, or DEX, is a company that specializes in manual transmission conversions for many popular electric cars. They offer two different transmission options for the Chevy Bolt, three for the Nissan Leaf, and three for the Chevy Volt. If you have one of these cars, DEX is a good option for manual transmission conversion kits.
ZF Engineering — ZF Engineering offers a few different manual transmission options for the Chevy Volt, Chevy Bolt, and Nissan Leaf. ZF Engineering’s offerings are unique because they offer both a traditional three-pedal manual transmission and an optional two-pedal transmission that doesn’t have a clutch. Torq-Box — Torq-Box is another company that offers several manual transmission conversion kits: they have two different kits designed for the Chevy Volt and the Chevy Bolt, and one for the Nissan Leaf. Torq-Box is a great option if you’re looking for a traditional three-pedal manual transmission.
Automatic Transmission Electric Cars: Pros And Cons
As we mentioned above, automatic transmissions are easier to find in electric cars than manual transmissions. But there’s a reason why more people don’t drive manual — they’re more expensive to buy and repair. Automatics can cost thousands of dollars more than a manual transmission, and they’re generally more expensive to repair, too. Automatics also thrust more power into the engine than a manual transmission does. Manual transmissions don’t let the engine use all the power it can generate — they only use as much as the driver uses.
Automatics, on the other hand, use as much power as needed for the current situation — whether the driver is using a little or a lot of power. To put it simply, automatics use more of the engine’s power and they use it more efficiently. Automatics are more likely to be available with the latest technology and features, too, like adaptive cruise control, lane assist, and collision warnings — features you rarely see in manual transmission cars.
Automatic Transmission Conversion Kits
As with manual transmission conversion kits, a few companies offer automatic transmission kits for popular electric cars. These include Automatic Drivetrain — Automatic Drivetrain offers a conversion kit for the Chevy Volt, Chevy Bolt, and Nissan Leaf. They have two different options available: one that’s designed for performance driving and one that’s made for the economy.
Torq-Box — Torq-Box also offers an automatic transmission conversion kit. They have two different kits available: one for the Nissan Leaf and one for the Chevy Volt and Chevy Bolt. Automatic Drivetrain and Torq-Box are both great options for aftermarket automatic transmission kits for electric cars.
You don’t have to drive an automatic transmission, but it’s important to know that not all electric cars offer manual transmission options. When you’re shopping for a new electric car, make sure you do your research to find out what types of transmissions are available. Also, remember that if you want a manual transmission, you’ll likely have to go with a used model, since many new cars don’t offer a manual transmission option. If you’re interested in a used model with a manual transmission, make sure you check the transmission to make sure it’s up to the engineer’s standards!