EV transmissions are under development and should be available soon, James Potter, controls manager for ZF Powertrain Technology, tells WardsAuto. “Two-speeds are coming out, and that will be the next generation,” he says. “For passenger cars, I would say we will probably eventually rise up to 3- or 4-speeds.”
The push to design transmissions for electric cars is part of the search for extended range. Potter believes adding a transmission will increase range by up to 20% while allowing auto makers to use smaller, lighter and less expensive batteries. He also expects transmissions to optimize the car for different tasks, whether highway travel or in town use. “If you get a Nissan LEAF and it’s the only car you have, now you need a car that is more customizable,” he says. “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.