Can an Electric Car Have a Manual Transmission?

Electric vehicles do not require a clutch or gear. They are incredibly power-efficient and can reach maximum torque in a matter of seconds.

Gasoline-powered cars require multiple gears to adjust power and torque for controlling speed and acceleration.

This begs the question: can electric cars have manual transmission? Let’s find out.

Electric Vehicles with Manual Transmission

Electric vehicles can have a manual transmission but those tend to be very rare. Most EVs with manual transmission mimic the nostalgic appeal of gasoline-powered cars. Manual EVs serve no functional purpose besides nostalgia.

Most EVs with manual transmission are incredibly rare – and expensive. The Porsche’s Cross Turismo has a starting price of nearly $186,000. The luxury car features a rear axle transmission.

The relatively affordable Audi e-tron GT also features an automated manual transmission. However, the starting price for this electric vehicle is nearly $100,000.

These cars only use multi-gear transmission to provide split options between low and high speeds. In other words, electric vehicles may lead to the extinction of manual transmission.

It goes without saying that this is a luxury market that caters to deep-pocketed individuals.

Why are Electric Cars Automatic
Why are Electric Cars Automatic

Which Pedals are Used in Electric Cars

Most electric cars feature just two pedals: the brake and the accelerator.

A major advantage of driving EVs is being able to drive with a single pedal. This allows drivers to slow the car by lifting their foot from the accelerator. Most plug-in hybrids feature one-pedal driving and take advantage of regenerative braking (discussed below).

So how does it work? Let’s take a look.

One-pedal driving allows drivers to bring the vehicle to a complete stop without engaging brakes. They can ease their foot off the accelerator pedal. The EV then decelerates at a force of about 0.2g.

This force is equal to 20% of full braking power and slows the car down. Once the vehicle completely stores down, the brakes engage to keep the car anchored.

One pedal driving does require some practice. Drivers will have to get in the habit of gently releasing the accelerator pedal. Drivers should also time the pedal’s release based on stopping distances.

This inst to say that traditional hydraulic brakes don’t work. The driver can activate hydraulic brakes if they sense an emergency.

One pedal driving should not be used for emergency stopping. It is simply a convenient feature that can be used to charge the car.

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Why Would Anyone Want a Manual Electric Vehicle?

Electric vehicles don’t have transmissions. However, some models have gearsets and differential for single speed gear reduction. This arrangement handles everything from slowing down and parking to accelerating and beyond.

The Tesla Roadster features multi-speed transmission with two-speed automatics. The extra gear was added to improve powertrain performance over a range of speeds. This mimics the transmission of gasoline powered cars.

Electric vehicles have motors with a broad torque band that requires fewer fears. Despite the lack of gears, these cars are very flexible with improved torque/efficiency range.

Adding gears can improve performance of electric cars. But there is a reason why car makers don’t add manual transmission.

Although it isn’t possible to make manual EVs, the process is expensive. There are car makers and professionals who convert classic cars into electric classic cars. They often leave the transmission in place even though it is pointless.

Gear ratios are best used for combustion engine torque characteristics. Most are not compatible with electric motors.

A noteworthy electric car with manual transmission is the 1000-lb-ft Mustang Lithium. It was jointly built by Webasto and Ford.

However, it was a gasoline powered car that was converted to electric drive.

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The Efficiency of Automatic Cars

An electric vehicle can achieve 20,000 revs per minute (RPM). However, a conventional car can only reach 4000-6000 rpm. This is because EVs can effortlessly change speeds without the need to adjust gears.

The engine continues to work as normal and can achieve faster acceleration. For example, the Model S can do 0-60 mph in just 3.2 seconds.

This makes it faster than most sports cars.

Regenerative Braking

Regenerative braking allows electric vehicles to increase battery charge by using kinetic energy.

It works by using the electric motor to slow the vehicle instead of the brake. The car’s forward motion resists the motor, converting it into a dynamo. This generates power for the electric vehicle and can be used to recharge the battery.

This system has been used in endurance racing for several years. The use of this technology is relatively recent. The extent of regeneration isn’t very high on some vehicles that still use a brake pedal.

Advanced EVs feature a complete regenerative one-pedal driving experience. They often only need to use the brake pedal during emergency situations.

The Function of an Electric Battery

The technology for electric vehicle batteries has improved significantly as manufacturers look for new solutions. Over the years, EV batteries have improved their capacity and life of charge time.

Once the batteries are depleted, they can be recharged from the grid. Drivers can charge their cars from the mains or a dedicated charging unit.

This brings our attention to hybrid cars. These vehicles use a combination of conventional fuel and electricity.       

Unfortunately, plug-in hybrids do not have manual transmissions. Some of these cars allow drivers to change the gear using steering wheel paddles. However, they are semi-automatic gearboxes.

Can an Electric Car Have a Manual Transmission
Can an Electric Car Have a Manual Transmission

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Advantages of Manual Transmissions

Although manual transmission predates automatic transmission, they are favored by many drivers.

Drivers who like to be more involved with their cars prefer to use a manual transmission. With a manual transmission, they can control engine gears based on their learning experiences.

A major problem with manual transmission in EVs is that they are expensive to purchase. If you’re on a budget, then you should stick to regular automatic EVs.

You Become a Better Driver

This isn’t to say that drivers of automatic cars are not great at driving. It simply means that the learning curve with manual transmission is steeper. If you learn how to drive a manual car, you can learn to drive anything. This is because the knowledge base is very similar from vehicle to vehicle.

Knowing how to control the clutch pedal and gear shift allows drivers to handle everything.

Manual Transmission is Less Likely to be Stolen

This is a major advantage of manual transmissions. Fewer people know how to drive manually shifted cars. This means that these cars are not a priority target. Experts believe that most car thieves are not competent at manual transmission vehicles.

In other words, having manual transmission should deter any would-be criminal.

Some people, however, disagree that thieves are not capable of stealing manuals.

Superior Control

Automatic transmission optimizes the best gear for a particular situation. However, they may result in a wastage of power. This is because they shift to a higher gear for safety reasons. At the same time, they don’t allow the driver to anticipate the road. It is common for automatic cars to switch to a lower gear.

By contrast, manual transmission allows drivers to feel in control and accurately anticipate road conditions.

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Disadvantages of Manual Transmission Cars

This isn’t to say that manual transmission cars are without their disadvantages. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Difficulty  to Learn

These cars are difficult to learn because drivers must change gears by themselves.

Risk of Staling

There is an inherent risk of stalling in heavy traffic situations.

Not as Safe

Drivers are required to take one hand off the steering wheel to change gears. This can be a source of distraction and cause drivers to lose control.

Leg Pain

Constantly engaging the clutch can be difficult because the foot doesn’t get any rest. This is especially true when traffic gets too congested. The result is aches and pain in the leg muscles.

The Main Advantages of Automatic Cars

On the whole, the automatic transmission is superior to manual transmission because of several reasons.

Easy of learning

It can take quite a bit of practice before beginners can drive manual cars. Automatic cars are a lot more simple to learn.

Lower Risk of Stalling

The risk of stalling in automatic cars is almost negligible. It can be extremely embarrassing to stall in the middle of traffic. Stalling never occurs in automatic transmission unless there is a major problem.

Easier to Drive Uphill

Driving uphill is not easy for beginners, especially as they drive from a dead stop. This is not a concern in automatic transmissions that can effortlessly navigate steep hilly areas.

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Disadvantages of Automatic Transmission

There are a few disadvantages of using an automatic transmission.

Expensive to maintain

Automatic transmission requires more expensive maintenance because of the complexity. There are several moving parts involved that require time and effort. This will be expensive to the driver.

Skillset Does not Translate to Manual Driving 

Your driving experiences in automatic transmission do not translate to manual driving. You may be required to take license tests before being allowed to drive manual cars.

Toyota Patented a Manual Transmission Simulator for EVs

Toyota has recently patented a manual transmission simulator for electric vehicles. Simulator gear selection can be used to adjust torque delivered to motors. The simulation can provide clutch pedal feedback similar to when engaging a clutch.

The system can even simulate a stall – not that it is any useful.

There is no real advantage of using this technology. The only goal is to make drivers feel that they are driving a manual car. This comes at the expense of engine performance to mimic the internal combustion engine.

The patent does not improve upon anything. Even the most advanced manual transmissions are worse than automatics.

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Car Makers Who May Build the First Manual Transmission EV

The only way that manual EVs will go mainstream is if they have high demand. However, there are a few car makers who have shown more enthusiasm for manual EVs. So which car maker will make the first ever electric vehicle with manual transmission?


The Polestar 1 is a 2 door plug-in hybrid EV that is making headway. The team behind Polestar 1 has set their sights on a new project.

The successor to Polestar 1 is Polestar 2.

The new car features manually adjustable dampers. Moreover, their team has a breath of experience in design and combustion car development. All these qualities mean that Polestar is the most likely candidate for manual EVs.

The team behind Polestar is also trying to appeal to the luxury market. They are expensive cars at a low volume to increase the appeal of their cars.


Most cars choose Porsche because the brand thrives on improving driving engagement. As a prominent automaker, it has a large collection of manual transmissions.

This means that Porsche is very likely to convert its manual transmissions to EV projects. However, Porsche isn’t known for making new bespoke platforms and will likely convert manual transmissions.

The most likely candidates are the Cayman and Boxster.


The Ferrari is known for blending technology with tradition. They have announced plans to make hybrid cars and may eventually make an all-electric vehicle. Their latest offerings include the plug-in hybrid SF90 and the LaFerrari.

If Ferrari decides to go the all-electric route, they may decide to make manual transmissions.

The Future of Manual Transmission EVs

The truth about manual transmissions is that there is not enough demand. It is a luxury commodity with a very small market. The likelihood of anyone buying manual EVs in place of regular EVs is very low.

Manufacturers always seek to lower their costs and EVs are affordable with automatic transmission.

The only way to see more manual transmission EVs is for drivers to crave demand. Toyota’s simulation seems like a more affordable option at this point.

It is unclear at this time if drivers are willing to pay a premium price. Let us know your thoughts on electric cars and manual transmissions.

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