One of the biggest conceptions about the C8 mid-engine Corvette is that it might not have a manual transmission. That’s been the prevailing thinking following a cache of CAD images that were shared on the Corvette Forum last year that showed only an automatic transmission.
Although the recent generations of Corvettes average somewhere in the 25% area as the take-rate for manual transmissions, that customer base is often the loudest when it comes to proclaiming their favorite choice of transmissions. The good news is that GM may have been listening as the automaker just received approval of a new patent that shows an electronic clutch system for manually shifted vehicles.
The new patent, called “Electric Slave Cylinder for Manually Shifted Vehicles” utilizes electric sensors connected to the clutch pedal that are in communication with a slave cylinder and actuator that controls the clutch. This clutch-by-wire could allow for a manual transmission without the use of hydraulic lines that are found in typical manual transmission set-ups.
The benefits of the system seem to favor a mid/rear-engine car where both the engine and transmission are behind the driver. However, since C5 generation, the transmission has already been in the rear anyway so I am not sure if that’s the main reason. Another of the benefits suggested in the patent is that the computer can be programmed for several other functions including allowing the computer to shift automatically in stop-or-go traffic to prevent driver fatigue.
This patent could also provide a way to deal with the “Emergency Stop” systems as they become mandatory in a few years. Our thinking is that as sensors engage the brakes, the computer could deactivate the manual transmissions during emergency braking.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has previously announced that Emergency Stop systems to become standard in 2022.
The patent itself says nothing about whether this is intended for the Corvette, but in reality, how many manual transmission cars does GM offer these days? (I actually looked this up and came up with this list: Chevrolet Spark, Chevrolet Sonic and Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet SS, Cadillac ATS/ATS-V.)
We have added the patent publication Electric Slave Cylinder for Manually Shifted Vehicles to our archives where it can be viewed or downloaded. Some of the images from patent are below:
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