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The Future Of The Manual Transmission

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  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,648
    If a transmission can shift for itself, it is an automatic. There's no grey area there. Having the third pedal isn't a requirement for a manual, but strictly requiring the driver to choose the gear (manually) is absolutely a requirement. That said, I think most of us who prefer manuals would lament the loss of control afforded by the clutch pedal. From what I hear, that is the biggest complaint about the dual-clutch automatics - they are jerky at slow speeds, which makes sense since there are many times that your car is not at a speed where the clutch is fully engaged or disengaged.

    I personally wouldn't be interested in a manual transmission that didn't have a clutch pedal, but that's not to say it can't be done. Are those high end paddle-shifted cars (like Ferrari's) manuals, or just automatics with paddle shifters?
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,648
    Often I think people simply suffer from gear envy. As with anything else, the numbers game wins in people's minds. Subaru used their 4EAT for well over a decade, and it is an excellent transmission. Yet, in later years, it apparently wasn't good enough because other makes with competing models had five or more gears. :sick:
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "BTW you just tried to define every tranny without a clutch pedal as an "automatic" proving my point."

    No, not exactly. There are three types of transmissions, Automatic, Semi-Automatic, and Manual. If it doesn't have a clutch pedal, then it is either the first or the second of the above list.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    edited October 2011
    "Having the third pedal isn't a requirement for a manual, but strictly requiring the driver to choose the gear (manually) is absolutely a requirement."

    I would have to disagree; if the driver is required to select which gear and approximately when said gear is to be engaged, but the transmission "Automatically" declutches, shifts the gear with servos, and then reclutches, then it is a "Semi-Automatic" transmission.

    The above said, there are some true Manual gearboxes out there (thinking sequential manuals here) which only require you to use the clutch for starting off from a standing stop, but I don't believe any such a beast is currently on the market.
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    "Are those high end paddle-shifted cars (like Ferrari's) manuals, or just automatics with paddle shifters?"

    According to most of the purists, they come under automatics as a semi-automatic transmission because the clutch action is automated.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Per Ferrari's own web site, the transmissions are classified as "Semi-Automatic".
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yeah, a lot of people are surprised when I say this but the 4 speed auto in our Forester is better overall vs. the 5 speed in our Sienna.

    The Sienna does have a taller overdrive, but...the Subaru shifts smoother, has less hesitation, and completes shifts quicker as well.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 15,430
    I am with Wes. If it can shift by itself, it is an automatic. If the driver is required to changes gears, it is a manual. Clutch pedal is not required.

    semi or full automatic, semantics. Just an AT with a manual selection option. Still an automatic.

    something like the old VW clutchless was still a manual, just with an automatic clutch (if you want to look at it that way). A DSG is just a different style AT.

    2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4i Limited Tech (mine), 2013 Acura RDX (wife's) and 2007 Volvo S40 (daughters college car)

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,657
    edited October 2011
    This distinction is probably another case of precise definition vs. the public's conventional understanding.

    When you say "manual transmission" or "stickshift" to 99% of the population, and show them a graphic with three options, one of which shows three pedals on the floor, that's what they're going to pick, whether they are scientifically correct or not.

    In another 20 years or so, when there are no longer 3 pedals on any car or truck anywhere, then younger people won't remember the 3-pedal world.

    Here's another "sort of" example of this:

    Older people STILL pump the gas pedal to start a car, because they remember the carburetor. You can explain to them all day long that no gas is being pumped into the engine by simply stomping on the pedal, but they'll do it anyway.

    So for them "pump the gas" means squirt gas into the engine, even though it's now a computer, and not a foot, that does all that.

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  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    In another 20 years or so, when there are no longer 3 pedals on any car or truck anywhere, then younger people won't remember the 3-pedal world.

    Careful, you're going to antagonize the purists. :shades:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,657
    Ah purists schmurists---I always tell 'em "fine, go play your 8-track tapes".

    Hey, nobody loves 3 pedals like I do but I can see the handwriting on the firewall.

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  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,785
    So what does the handwriting on the firewall say about the approximate date for the death of the manual?.....I'm guessing by c. 2022 they'll be pretty much all gone. Maybe even before that.

    So, probably less than 10 years to buy manuals. I'm 47, and so if in 5-8 years I buy another car, if I'm really, really, lucky and take real good care of it, that might do me for the rest of my driving career...
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 30,509
    I just bought a 24-yr-old car, so there is always that option...

    So... if manuals are around until 2020, then I can find an old one until 2045.... when, I'll be 87 years old...

    I think I'm set.... ;)

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  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    What about the kids learning now? I taught my son (and will start teaching my daughter next year) how to drive a stick, and now he won't even consider driving a car with an automatic. Don't know if it has anything to do with the fact that my son is a bit of a trend setter at school, but now an easy dozen of his friends have been converted and drive sticks, and many-many more are bugging their parents to teach them how.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,600
    Not to worry, someone will create an app for that and it'll interface with the AT, giving the illusion of control for the driver. For extra realism, the kids can hook a joystick up to their smartphone.

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  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,702
    Let's face it kids now care more about the Dbs going thru their speakers than the HP going out the tailpipes and by the time they reach middle age cars will be all electrical and have no transmissions at all. ICEs might not even be legal.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 30,509
    What about the kids learning now?

    Who do you think is driving the 24-yr-old car? ;)

    He had a perfectly good 19-yr-old car, but begged me for a stick-shift..

    He might only get to drive a stick until he is 60...

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  • stickguystickguy Posts: 15,430
    my daughter can get her permit at the end of November. So after she finishes with the madatory 6 hours with a driving school, she can start driving with us. So, I get to brush off the stick teaching skills.

    really curious to see how she does with it, and if she will want to continue. If not, it is going to cut way down on her practice opportunities (since she is in my car more than the wifes van).

    Of course, until my wife trades out of the minivan, she doesn't want to be caught dead driving that!

    2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4i Limited Tech (mine), 2013 Acura RDX (wife's) and 2007 Volvo S40 (daughters college car)

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "Let's face it kids now care more about the Dbs going thru their speakers than the HP going out the tailpipes..."

    Not in my neck of the woods; kids around here really do seem to enjoy the act of driving. Why? Maybe the fact that we're semi-rural and have roads which wind around over hill and dale.

    My son's 12th grade class has just shy of 200 students, and at last count, in excess of 40 of them either drive cars with manual transmissions on a daily basis or drive them frequently enough to be declared "proficient". I suppose it doesn't hurt that the Captains of the Soccer team, Football team, and Cheerleading squat all drive manual transmission equipped cars to school every day.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,309
    "STICKING AROUND
    Manual trannies are alive and -- well, not dead yet

    Cadillac offers the 556-hp CTS-V luxury car with a manual transmission, a commercial says, 'because there are those who still believe in the power of a firm handshake.'
    Lindsay Chappell
    Automotive News -- October 31, 2011 - 12:01 am ET


    Speaking statistically, manual transmissions are disappearing from the American auto market.

    But disappearing from the hearts and minds of drivers? Hardly.

    In fact, there is new life in the old technology -- at least as a symbol of sportiness for certain models.

    Cadillac has just begun advertising its racy $63,215 CTS-V on national TV, specifically touting its manual transmission. 'Why did we build a 556-horsepower luxury car with a manual transmission?' the spot asks. 'Because there are those who still believe in the power of a firm handshake.'

    Cadillac's Molly Peck: A manual 'adds to the thrill of the model.'

    'We recognize in talking to our consumers that they really appreciate a manual,' says Molly Peck, Cadillac advertising director. 'It's not about a cost-saving technology. It's about that engagement with the vehicle that some drivers want. It adds to the thrill of the model.'

    Mini is also launching a campaign to sing the praises of manual shifting, using the tag line, 'Get your shift together.' And Mazda North American Operations just introduced a redesigned Mazda3 with a new six-speed manual transmission as part of its Skyactiv fuel-economy package. The model also comes with an older five-speed manual option that Mazda just isn't ready to drop.

    In a world of sophisticated new automatics, investing in manuals is not easy. Mazda engineers completely redesigned their shifting system to make the new manual more smooth. The project meant shortening the 'travel distance' from gear to gear by a mere 5 millimeters. But it's worth it because the automaker predicts that nearly one of five Mazda3 buyers will choose one of the manual transmissions.

    Next month in Los Angeles, Mazda will introduce a redesign-ed CX-5 crossover that also has the six-speed manual. Manual-transmission customers for the current CX-5 have been running at just under 6 percent.

    'It's not big volume, but that's not the point,' says Jeremy Barnes, Mazda's British-accented U.S. product spokesman. 'It's not a demographic, it's a psychographic. Manual transmissions appeal to the sporty end of the spectrum, and that's who we are. It's what differentiates us from Toyota and Honda.'

    Mini's spin on it? 'Manual transmissions are important to our customers,' says Tom Salkowsky, Mini USA brand marketing manager. 'There is a community of drivers out there who want the benefits of a manual. And our message is, for those of you looking for that driving experience of control, Mini is the brand for you.'

    The brand sells a stick-shift model to more than one out of every three customers. In its New England market, for reasons the company doesn't fully understand, almost half of Mini sales are sticks. This fall, the company began stepping up the drumbeat for manuals, opening up a comical toll-free phone line - 1-855-MANUAL-UP- where callers can hear witty recordings about buying manual-equipped cars. Salkowsky has also unleashed a manual-promoting print ad campaign that reads: 'Buy two pedals, get one free.'

    Are these automakers simply bucking the tide of automotive history?

    At a casual glance, stick shift transmissions seem to be headed for the dust heap, alongside other perfectly nice tools of the past like typewriters and rooftop TV antennas.

    Cadillac's Molly Peck: A manual 'adds to the thrill of the model.'

    In the vast population of all light vehicles on U.S. roads -- some 240 million in rough numbers -- stick shifts account for just 12 percent today, according to Polk, the industry data-gathering firm. Automakers estimate that most are older vehicles, slowly aging out of commission, and that manuals represent a measly 5 to 7 percent of vehicle sales today.

    Japanese automakers have been investing in additional transmission manufacturing capacity in North America over the past year for future products, including a $50 million Ohio factory expansion project announced last month by Honda of America Manufacturing Inc. But it is all for new-generation automatic transmissions. Toyota, Nissan and Honda do not produce a single manual transmission in the United States.

    To prepare for future demand, German transmission supplier ZF Group has stepped up plans for a new factory in Laurens, S.C., that will produce eight-speed automatic transmissions for Chrysler. ZF said last month that it has increased the budget to $400 million, up from the scheduled $320 million, so it can add a new nine-speed automatic transmission to the mix.

    'Demand for manual transmissions is shrinking for all manufacturers,' says Steve Yaeger, Nissan North America Inc.'s spokesman on technology. Nissan offers manual options on many models, including the high-revving 370Z roadster. But the technology is peripheral. Sales of the Z will be under 10,000 this year. Of greater significance is Nissan's strategic move of recent years to use more continuously variable transmissions, promoting their smoothness and fuel economy. The 2012 Nissan Versa sedan comes with either a CVT or a five-speed manual. The CVT Versa offers 3 miles per gallon better combined city and highway fuel economy than the more humble stick version.

    'The momentum is definitely behind making the CVT even more efficient and enjoyable for the customers while returning fuel economy that rivals a manual shift,' Yaeger says.

    That is a reversal from traditional thinking. In the past, consumers chose manual transmissions to gain better fuel economy than the automatic versions of a model. Advanced automatics can now outperform the old sticks in the mpg department.

    Another factor behind the decline of stick shifts: Drivers don't have enough arms to shift gears anymore. Consumers today often hold the steering wheel with one hand while holding a cell phone or even attempting to text with the other. It is a common bad habit that makes manually shifting gears a nuisance requiring a third arm.

    And stick-shifting no longer has a corner on driving performance. Jim Vurpillat, Cadillac's global marketing director, notes that Cadillac set an industry speed record for production sedans three years ago at Germany's Nurburgring racetrack using the CTS-V sedan automatic -- not the manual. And some high-performance brands, including Ferrari and Lamborghini, are moving away from stick shifts entirely in favor of more sophisticated transmissions.

    All this has some consumers moaning the blues. The auto buff book Car and Driver runs a public opinion campaign called 'Save the manuals!' that decries what readers fear is the creeping end of manual transmissions.

    'I can't tell you how much I love manual transmission,' one
  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 15,052
    The math indicates 20% of that population ! Perhaps it is indeed a snap shot of the (set) 20% ( of the passenger vehicle fleet) that are manuals.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Between the Mazda3 i Sport, the Mazda3 i Touring, and the Mazda3 s models, Mazda is now offering not one, not two, but three different manual transmissions for the Mazda3; one 5-Speed and two 6-Speed units. Not too shabby. :)
  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 15,052
    Sure part of the marketing demographic are those that would sometimes to always chose automatics, BUT It would seem that integral to the marketing "pizzaz" are the manual transmissions options.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Let's face it kids now care more about the Dbs going thru their speakers than the HP going out the tailpipes

    I think it's more about Megabytes going through the head units, actually.

    Boom-box stereos have made way for geeky in-car tech.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,657
    Well there are still plenty of people who love vinyl LPs and insist they offer better music quality, but that substantial group of highly vocal people did not save vinyl LPs.

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  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 15,052
    edited October 2011
    Well the real funny part is when you play "records" through today's digital and noise canceling systems, the effects / sounds can literally be the best of both worlds. !!! Some of the "re" mastered stuff is pretty surprising.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,657
    Cadillac might brag about its manual transmission, but it took them long enough to get the clunkiness out of it.

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  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 15,052
    edited October 2011
    I think if you are talking of the Tremec TR 6060 (T-56 precursor), probably the best thing they did was use Chevrolet's Corvette's drive train and the mag suspension, rather than their oem DIY. My take is they still would be fumbling with it if they OEM DIY'ed. I personally would not get the mag suspension, but that is just a personal thing.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,657
    a big sedan with a manual transmission is a very odd duck indeed. I don't expect there's much of a market for it--just the few, the brave.

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  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,785
    Or, what about the Mazda5 small minivan with the 6 speed manual...freakish, but good!?
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