Shifting gears in Genovation's electric Corvette
(CNN) - My father had a saying about cars with automatic transmissions. "You might as well let somebody else (expletive deleted) drive!"
He didn't like them. These days he would be in the minority. It's hard to find a car that lets you shift gears yourself and, if you can, it's probably with paddles or by pushing a stick back and forth. Electric cars threatened to kill off the fun of shifting gears altogether because they have no transmissions at all. There's nothing to shift because electric cars work fine with just one gear.
So when a company called Genovation invited me to drive a prototype of their all-electric Corvette with a seven-speed manual transmission — or an optional eight-speed automatic — I thought: "That sounds dumb," and "Absolutely!"
It's not uncommon for me to have those two thoughts in succession. But, in this case, I was really curious. The car, called the Genovation GXE, is powered by two electric motors producing up to 800 horsepower. Genovation will only make 75 of them and prices will start at $750,000.
Electric motors are different from gasoline engines in that they produce their maximum torque, or pulling power, at even their lowest operating speeds. Also they don't make obnoxiously loud noises — or the "music of the gods," depending on your taste — when running at high speeds. These things mean an electric car can drive from zero to fast, without ever needing to change gears.