Virtual shifting for electric cars is coming to showrooms

Virtual shifting for electric cars is coming to showrooms

The latest electric vehicle from Hyundai’s luxury brand Genesis allows drivers to shift between virtual “gears”, accompanied by computer-generated sound and a digital tachometer.

The newest Electric car Genesis GV60 Performance has unveiled technology designed to bring the experience of changing gears in a petrol car to a battery-powered vehicle – and could come to Australia in a future model update.

Known as Virtual Gear Shift (VGS) – which can be switched on and off – the system combines electric motor hardware with clever software to simulate a petrol or diesel vehicle’s automatic transmission for an electric car.

While the feel of subtle gear changes – similar to a dual-clutch automatic in a Volkswagen Golf GTI or Hyundai i30 N Hot Hatches – is compelling, the irony is that the technology slows the car slightly when active, rather than seamlessly delivering a burst of acceleration.

Paddle shifters behind the Genesis GV60’s steering wheel – formerly used only to control the regenerative braking of the electric motors – allow the driver to change imaginary “gears” (most electric motors only have one gear).

Each simulated gear change is accompanied by a small jolt in the power of the electric motors and a change in the computer-generated sound that the car produces.

The virtual shifting system was unveiled by the Hyundai Group last year in the RN22e electric race car concept and was first due to go into production in this year’s Hyundai Ioniq 5N Electric Hot Hatch.

However, Hyundai’s Genesis luxury brand made it available in South Korea a year earlier in the updated GV60 Performance 2023 mid-size SUV – which shares its underpinnings with the Ioniq 5 N and RN22e.

It’s unclear if the ‘VGS’ technology will be retuned for use in the Ioniq 5 N – but that seems likely given Hyundai’s focus on track driving compared to the less powerful Genesis.

The system can be deactivated at the driver’s request, returning the car to a traditional single-speed setup, with the driver being able to use the steering wheel paddles to control the level of regenerative braking.

Genesis Australia is yet to confirm if the Virtual Gear Shift system for GV60 will be available in the Australian market, however it could be part of a future model year update.

Genesis says on its global website that the virtual shift feature “reduces the sound of the engine revving, [an] active electronic instrument cluster and changing speed [on a digital tachometer]”.

The version of the Virtual Shift System, destined for the Hyundai Ioniq 5N this year, was designed to mirror the shifting speed of a Hyundai i30N Hot Hatch with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

“It’s full immersion for the guys who are looking for involved driving,” Hyundai senior technical adviser – and former head of Hyundai’s N-Performance division – Albert Biermann told Australian media earlier this month .

Hyundai RN22e concept vehicle.

“But you can turn everything off [the fake gear shift mode]. And that’s important, because maybe you like it for five minutes or ten minutes, but then maybe you don’t like it anymore.

“There are many, many roads here in Australia that I would welcome it on – iceberg roads, and you just drive there and enjoy the car. But not so much in traffic jams in Sydney,” said Mr. Biermann.

The Lexus system uses a conventional gear stick and clutch pedal – controlled by clever software – and even lets the car sit, much like a real manual transmission vehicle.

MORE:Genesis GV60 showroom
MORE:Genesis GV60 reviews
MORE:Genesis GV60 showroom
MORE:Genesis GV60 reviews
Alex Misoyannis

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017 when he launched his own website Redline. He worked for Drive in 2018 before joining CarAdvice in 2019 and becoming a regular contributor to the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from leafing through car magazines at a young age to growing up with performance vehicles in a car loving family.

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