It won’t be long until EV transmissions are available, according to the controls manager for ZF Powertrain Technology, James Potter — as they are apparently already under development and nearing market readiness.
In an interview with Wards Auto, Potter noted that “two-speeds are coming out, and that will be the next generation. For passenger cars, I would say we will probably eventually rise up to 3- or 4-speeds.”
The desire to design transmissions specifically for electric cars is obviously down to the fact that range can potentially be extended as a result. According to Potter, adding a transmission could increase range by up to 20%, while also potentially allowing for the use of smaller, less-expensive battery packs.
There’s also the potential there for optimization of cars for different tasks, as he noted: “If you get a Nissan LEAF and it’s the only car you have, now you need a car that is more customizable. Maybe you need the ability to change battery size based on what you will use the car for, or maybe you need multiple transmission options based on what you’ll use the car for.”
Potter foresees the day when the electric motor and transmission will be combined into one hybrid unit. ZF already does something similar now for ActiveHybrid versions of BMW’s 3, 5 and 7 Series cars, in which the electric motor takes the place of the torque converter.
Even thought the video above shows a transmission system from KOM Advanced Powertrain Strategies, the transmissions under development by ZF will be similar in operation. For a car nut like me, the sweet sound of the drivetrain going up and down through the gears is music to my ears. I think I would really enjoy driving an electric car with a transmission.
Can’t argue with any of that. The next decade or so should see some interesting developments in the electric car industry, presumably with the industry as a whole maturing technologically, and possibly entering wide-scale use.