Don’t expect the manual transmission ever to make a comeback in the Chevrolet Corvette.
At least that’s the word from Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter, who says Chevy couldn’t find anybody willing to manufacture such a transmission for the new mid-engine Stingray.
Not that there are really that many folks who will be upset with that news.
Indeed, Juechter says only about 15 percent of C7s were outfitted with the 7-speed manual transmission. “Every year it goes down, down, down, down,” he said.
Think back to the 1970s. The number of automatic transmission-equipped Corvettes started to climb back then when the car morphed into more of a luxury cruiser, and it’s continued to grow ever since.
Today, “it’s 15 percent (manuals) on cars like the Z06, which historically have been only a manual,” Juechter told Motor Authority. “And as soon as we offer the automatic, everybody buys the automatic.”
Ironically, that trend goes against what is happening at Porsche, where North America CEO Klaus Zellmer says two out of three buyers of the 911 GT3 are still choosing manuals.
Juechter knows his Corvette customers, though, and insists the days of shifting gears for yourself are over starting with the C8.
“It’s a dying business,” he said. “The people who make a living building manual transmissions, they see that it’s not a bright future for them. It’s low volume, very expensive. The reason is it’s a low-volume industry. That industry is dying – building manual transmissions.”
Of course, when you have what appears to be such a winning replacement for the manual – the new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission – why fight a losing battle, Chevy figures.
Not that it was easy to come up with the DCT transmission.
“We don’t just find a DCT, an 8-speed DCT that plugs into this architecture with the right dimensions,” Juechter said.
Fitting a transaxle-style transmission and placing the new LT2 engine lower in the C8 led to special challenges developing the DCT, he said.
“That puts huge burden on the transmission, too, because it can’t have a deep sump either, so all the oil management, everything is super slammed,” Juechter said. “The belting, the transmission, figuring out how to cool it, there’s a ton of complexity around that. That’s one of the equations we had to solve.”
An equation that wound up not including a manual option.
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