Why Car Companies Are Retiring Manual Transmissions?
It is not unusual for the automobile industry to be very competitive and progress is inevitable. However, progress often means sacrifice, and in this case, it seems the manual transmission is the sacrifice. As most car manufacturers, nowadays, see little sense in offering a third pedal on their models, it is likely that the days of the third pedal are numbered. This applies especially to high-performance and mass-produced models. There are some markets where certain models are offered exclusively with a manual transmission, such as Canada, where the Volkswagen Golf R is available only with a six-speed manual, but by 2023, some manufacturers, such as Mercedes-Benz, intend to phase out the manual transmission. In spite of the fact that low demand is often cited as the primary reason for retiring the third pedal, there’s much more to it than that.
How come manual transmissions are in decline?
That could be due to a number of factors. According to Carmax, manual-equipped cars in the US have decreased by 89.5 percent since 1995, even though we don’t go into the psychological aspects of it and say that people may have become more impatient, lazier, or more prone to multitasking behind the wheel (which is not a good idea). Nevertheless, why is that so?
Driving an automatic car is more comfortable and easier
It is easier and more relaxing to drive an automatic even for someone like me who prefers to control as much as possible. People living in over-crowded areas where traffic jams are a common occurrence will certainly appreciate not having to shift gears multiple times over a distance of 50 yards (45.7 meters). If you repeat the whole process enough times, the whole process becomes a burden.
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In comparison to the past, the new automatic cars are much refined and sportier
Having a car equipped with an automatic no longer means sacrificing performance or fuel economy when compared to one with a manual transmission. It’s clear that the days of the old “slush-boxes” are long gone now. A new automatic may occasionally be inadequate in low-speed, urban driving conditions, but they are few and far between in our day and age.
The Porsche 911 (992) GT3 is the only car you need to consider, as both a manual and an automatic version are available. With the PDK transmission, the naturally-aspirated 911 reaches 60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.2 seconds, 0.5 seconds faster than with a six-speed manual transmission. While having a faster 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) time doesn’t necessarily make for a more engaging sports car, it still gives an example.
Cost-effective production and development
Car companies are always striving to reduce costs, especially today. Therefore, it is more expensive to develop a car with multiple transmission options than a car with just one transmission option. In order to develop a car with both an automatic and a manual transmission, both versions of the car must be subjected to the same emission and crash tests, independently. Crash tests often result in destroying twice as many cars.
Active safety systems are separately scored from collision testing when it comes to crash tests. Although not impossible, the integration of passive safety systems into manual cars is more difficult (or so some manufacturers claim), which is why certain manufacturers choose not to go through the hassle. Subaru BRZ’s manual version, for instance, scored poorly on the active safety test for the same reason. Like Audi, which stopped offering manual transmissions across its entire US lineup in 2019, some manufacturers are ahead of the curve.
In light of this, it begs the question of how other manufacturers accomplish the same thing and score well in active safety crashes. There are rumors that the Toyota GR Yaris (and possibly the GR Corolla) may get a sequential transmission, but both come exclusively with a manual transmission. As a result of its manual transmission, the Toyota GR Corolla received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick award. This makes us wonder what Subaru’s plan is.
A new era of electric vehicles has begun
A clear advantage is apparent for all-electric vehicles when it comes to 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h). With the instant, low-end torque of the electric motors, and a quick-shifting automatic or single gear ratio, EVs have a constant acceleration. In an effort to keep up or at least close the gap, a growing number of internal combustion engines are only offered with automatic transmissions.
Also Read: What Are The Differences Of Manual And Automatic Transmissions In Cars? Pros and Cons.