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by Tim Beissmann

German automotive technology powerhouse Bosch believes drivers of electric cars will soon be able to change gears just as they do in regular vehicles.

The world’s largest supplier of automotive components expects automatic transmissions will make their way into EVs in the near future as manufacturers seek to provide greater efficiency and driver engagement.

“High-precision automatic transmissions are essential in hybrid vehicles to ensure that the combustion engine and electric motor are synchronised with each another, but such transmissions could also find their way into pure electric vehicles,” Bosch said in a statement.

EVs are powered by electric motors that run at up to 20,000rpm and produce peak torque from idle allowing them to operate effectively with only one gear. Internal combustion petrol and diesel engines, alternately, typically have a maximum speed below 9000rpm and rely on numerous ratios to keep power and torque outputs high.

Bosch says it is a misconception that electric motors and multi-gear transmissions are mutually exclusive technologies, however, insisting that selecting the optimum transmission ratio will always make an engine or motor more efficient.

Bosch estimates global sales in 2020 of 2.5 million electric vehicles, along with three million plug-in hybrids, 6.5 million hybrids and 100 million petrol and diesel vehicles.

Last year there were 100,000 EVs, 90,000 plug-ins, 1.5 million hybrids and more than 60 million petrol and diesel vehicles sold around the world. More than half of those were equipped with automatic transmissions, and Bosch expects auto gearboxes will increasingly overtake manuals globally in the coming years.