Just Car Blog
|Manual Transmission Sales Rise, At Least For Now||
In 2011, only 3.9 percent of the cars sold in the United States came equipped with a manual transmission. Through the first half of 2012, that number has risen to seven percent, giving automotive enthusiasts a bit of hope for the future.
The take rate for manual transmissions is up at a time when the number of vehicles offered with a row-it-yourself gearbox is down. As The Los Angeles Times reports, only 36 percent of new vehicles sold in the U.S. can be equipped with a stick, while back in 2001 some 52 percent could be ordered that way.
No one knows for sure why more people are buying manual transmissions, but the general assumption is that more manual-trans drivers are trading in old cars on new. In other words, the spike in demand is likely to be temporary, and Edmunds.com analyst Ivan Drury believes that manuals are “on track to be virtually extinct in the next 15 to 20 years.”
For those without a passion for matching revs on a down-shift, newer automatics offer some serious advantages. They typically deliver better performance, often with improved fuel economy, too. While manual transmissions used to be priced below automatics, today there’s usually parity in price between transmission options.
Given the reported rise in CVTs, there’s no doubt the future looks bleak for those of us who prefer to row their own gears. This may be our final moment in the sun, so lets enjoy it while we still can.
|Shifting Debacle: BMW Patent Designs for 7-Speed Manual Transmission Exposed||
The transmission debacle in the eye of enthusiasts is just as frustrating as listening to the latest political ‘stories’ in the media. In knowing how the manual transmission is going the way of the dinosaurs, BMW still has one last hurrah in what is being exposed as their patent for a 7-Speed manual transmission.
The patent office is always a good place to start when you want to be on the verge of the latest ‘things to come’, especially in the electronics community and automotive world. Porsche has already had a jump on offering the first 7-speed manual transmission, which is available in the Porsche 911. The 7-speed manual transmission can be a mixed bag for enthusiasts. To look at it from the manufacturer’s point of view, it is all about efficiency while still essentially giving the driver what they want.
BMW’s design proposal, according to the recent uncovered manual transmission patents, has plans outside of just a 7-speed manual box. It seems the idea for even more gears, potentially 8 or 9 gears, may be considered. In such configurations, today’s technology will need to play a large part in preventing miss-shifts or driver confusion with having so many gears to select “manually”. The use of a computerized shifting module or “Shift by Wire” system could play a part. Think of this as the SMG unit having a gated shift box only the shifts are registered electronically by servos via hydraulic actuation.
It is great to have such innovative ideas to ultimately make the purist or true enthusiast happy. It remains to be seen if such technology will be favorable among our peers. For now, we are happy to know BMW is still on the very short list of those who have not given up on the manual transmission just yet.
|BMW To Offer Manual Transmission On New M6||
Some automotive purists cannot be convinced of the idea that dual-clutch transmissions or other variations of automated manual gearboxes are better than the traditional three-pedal manual stick-shift. BMW happens to be one of the rare performance and luxury vehicle manufacturers (aham… “driving machine makers”) in American that still understands this. BMW understands it so well that they offer a manual gearbox for most of their car lineup, and will reportedly do the same with the new 2013 and 2014 BMW M6.
The new 2013 BMW M5 already offers a 6-speed manual gearbox and the new M6 will follow suit possibly for the 2013 and 2014 model years. Enthusiasts in American will rejoice as BMW keeps hope alive with the effort to save the manuals. Contrary to the matter, BMW is allegedly attempting to convince its executives to lobby for a broader acceptance for automatics. Until that lobbing becomes successful, give me the manual option please!
|Porsche’s Seven Speed Gearbox, Explained||
Seven and eight speed gearboxes are the way of the future, since they offer up a blend of both performance and fuel economy simply not possible with five and six speed transmissions. Porsche is the first manufacturer to release a seven-speed manual transmission, and adding the seventh gear allows the automaker greater flexibility in improving the new 911’s performance while meeting ever-tightening U.S. and E.U. fuel economy requirements.
The seven speed pattern is your typical “double H” of a six-speed, with another “half H” added to accommodate the seventh gear (which is located to the right of fifth gear). Gears one through six are close-ratio, designed to maximize acceleration, while the seventh gear is essentially a tall overdrive, designed to reduce engine speeds at high vehicle speeds. In other words, only one to six will be used when driving in a spirited manner (since top speed is achieved in sixth gear), while seventh gear will be used exclusively on the highway (or faster secondary roads) to boost fuel economy.
Porsche’s PDK dual-clutch automatic is also now a seven-speed, with the same “overdrive” feature as the seven speed manual gearbox. As with most dual-clutch manumatics, the PDK will serve up the fastest lap times, since it executes gear changes much faster (and smoother) than a human being can. The trade off is the man-machine interface, and I’ve never driven a shiftable automatic (including Porsche’s PDK) that I prefer over a manual transmission for sheer entertainment value. Props to Porsche for offering customers the ability to choose, instead of just jumping on the flappy-paddle-shift bandwagon.
|It’s Over, Johnny: Lamborghini Kills The Manual Transmission||
The replacement for Lamborghini’s Gallardo, due next year, will come only with a slushbox. Granted, it’s a dual-clutch, paddle-shifted slushbox that will produce quicker and more precise shifts than a human ever can, but it’s still an automatic transmission. Gone is the stunningly beautiful machined shift gate, and gone is the satisfaction of a perfectly executed downshift. You’ll get better downshifts from a computer, but where’s the sense of accomplishment in having a silicon chip apply the exact amount of throttle to match revs in the next lowest gear?
Adding insult to injury is Maurizio Reggiani, director of R&D for Lamborghini. Reggiani told Motor Trend, “A manual transmission is a break in the electronic chain of command that harmonizes absolutely everything that happens between engine combustion chamber and tire contact patch. The only way Lamborghini can guarantee soothing smoothness in city driving or back-thumpingly explosive acceleration on a winding road is for every system in the car to be interconnected. You can’t rely on a driver to always shift gears without glitches.”
Allow me to interpret Reggiani’s statement for you: people who buy Lamborghinis aren’t drivers, and they’re more concerned with style and image than with achieving the perfect interface between man and machine. Lambo’s client base wants to sip their non-fat-half-caff-Americano while conference calling with their attorneys; they don’t care about mastering the delicate dance required to extract the last bit of performance out of a manual transmission. It isn’t just Lambo, either, since the current California will be the last Ferrari to come with a manual gearbox option.
I might point out that women aren’t cutting edge technology, either. After all, their design hasn’t changed for thousands of years, they’re overly complex and they require years of study to interface with proficiently. Using Reggiani’s logic, we should all go out and buy ourselves a RealDoll latex playmate, and perhaps a dog for companionship. It’s more efficient and far more logical than entering into relationships with the opposite sex.
As for me, I’ll keep my six-speed manual and my wife. You can have your slushbox, RealDoll and non-fat-half-caff-Americano.
Source: Car Advice
|“Save The Manuals” – Will The Manual Transmission Become Extinct?||
It has been estimated that less than 10% of new cars sold in America are equipped with manual transmissions.
Are manual transmissions going the way of the dinosaurs? It looks like it. Somehow, due to technology advancements just in the past 10 years, we are witnessing a virtual meteor destroy the raw mechanics that allowed purists to really ‘DRIVE’ their car like they stole it and feel good about it in the process. We have reached a paradox of the mindless driver over-taking the automotive world which will be left replaced with flappy paddle gearboxes and automatic slush-boxes.
Car and Driver has started a campaign to “Save the Manuals” with Consumer Reports joining in on this endeavor to resurrect a natural part of automotive enthusiast’s DNA to manually shift their car. This may be prove to show that there are some die-hard gear-heads still left in this dire economically stricken world. Remember the days you could buy an SUV with a manual transmission? Today, you would be hard pressed to find one. Even in today’s high powered sports cars, the option (what use to be standard) to outfit it with a manual transmission is just about gone. Their only remains a short list of vehicles that can be purchased new with a manual transmission.
The technological advancements that have trickled down to automotive transmissions are truly remarkable. For instance, take the Nissan GT-R’s double-clutch box. You would end up breaking something if you even attempted to shift a manual transmission that fast. Ferrari is another one. They are notorious for creating a vehicle specifically designed around a floppy paddle gearbox technology that shifts in an unbelievable short 60 milliseconds. I am not even sure if you can blink your eye that fast. These types of transmissions work great and can be a lot of fun at times. But nothing compares to a good-old manual transmission. You can ask just about any tobacco chewing car-nut out there. Okay, they don’t have to chew tobacco. I am sure you get my drift.
So what current day cars can you still buy new with a manual transmission? Below is a list compiled by Consumer Reports. Hopefully we can fight to at least keep these cars on the list and maybe add a few along the way.
Current new cars available with a manual transmission:
Acura TL, TSX
Audi A3, A4, A5, R8, S4, TT
BMW 1 Series, 3 Series, 5 Series, 6 Series, X3, Z4
Chevrolet Aveo, Camaro, Cobalt, Colorado, Corvette, Cruze, HHR
Dodge Caliber, Challenger, Ram 2500, Ram 3500, Viper
Ford Escape, F-250, F-350, Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, Mustang, Ranger
Honda Accord, Civic, CR-Z, Element, Fit
Hyundai Accent, Elantra, Genesis Coupe, Santa Fe, Sonata, Tucson
Jeep Compass, Liberty, Patriot, Wrangler
Kia Forte, Optima, Rio, Sorento, Soul, Sportage
Lotus Elise, Evora
Mazda B-Series, MX-5 Miata, RX-8, Tribute, Mazda2, Mazda3, Mazda5, Mazda6
Mercedes-Benz C-Class, SLK
Mini Cooper, Cooper Clubman
Mitsubishi Eclipse, Lancer, Lancer Evolution, Outlander Sport
Nissan Altima, Cube, Frontier, Juke, Sentra, Versa, Xterra, Z
Porsche 911, Boxster, Cayenne, Cayman
Saab 9-3, 9-5
Scion tC, xB, xD
Subaru Forester, Impreza, Impreza WRX/STi, Legacy, Outback
Suzuki Equator, Grand Vitara, Kizashi, SX4
Toyota Camry, Corolla, FJ Cruiser, Matrix, Tacoma, Yaris
Volkswagen CC, Eos, Golf, GTI, Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, New Beetle, Tiguan
Volvo C30, C70, S40, V50
Do you think the manual transmission is doomed? What type of transmission do you prefer? Participate in our on-going transmission poll below!
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