Why there’s no manual gearbox for C8 Corvette

Why there’s no manual gearbox for C8 Corvette

Chief engineer: We couldn’t promise enough volume for a supplier to make the investment

Corvette fans still holding out hope for a manual transmission in the C8 generation of the Chevrolet Corvette, abandon hope. Not only does the Corvette’s chief engineer and vehicle line director say the Corvette won’t get a manual, but building manual transmissions is a dying industry.

When I asked Corvette lead engineer Tadge Juechter at the reveal of the 2020 Corvette on Thursday if there is any chance the manual will come back, he replied simply: “No.”

Juechter said a manual-equipped Corvette wouldn’t sell well enough to make it worth a supplier’s effort to develop.

Driver gets switches instead of gear lever in C8 Corvette

Dual-clutch transmission will be part all C8 Corvettes

“We couldn’t find anybody honestly who’d be willing to do it. Because just like the automatic, the DCT, it would have to be a bespoke manual,” Juechter said. “It’s low volume, very expensive. The reason is it’s a low-volume industry. That industry is dying—building manual transmissions.”

Apparently, the take-rate for manuals in the Corvette has plummeted to about 15 percent now, according to Juechter.

“Every year it goes down, down, down, down,” he said.

Porsche experimented with dropping the manual from its track-focused 911 GT3 and found it had upset buyers, who have since bought the manual in that car in large volumes. In fact, according to Porsche North America CEO Klaus Zellmer, two out of three buyers opt for the manual.

Juechter said the same wouldn’t hold for the Corvette.

“It’s 15 percent on cars like the Z06, which historically have been only a manual. And as soon as we offer the automatic, everybody buys the automatic,” Juechter said.

The future doesn’t look bright for the manual in the ‘Vette or the industry, Juechter said.

“It’s a dying business. The people who make a living building manual transmissions, they see that it’s not a bright future for them,” he explained.

Instead of a manual or a traditional automatic transmission, the 2020 Corvette will feature a new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. Its development challenged for the Corvette engineering team, and Chevrolet worked with Tremec to develop the transmission, which will be built in Wixom, Michigan.

Juechter said the DCT had to be developed specially for the Corvette.

“We don’t just find a DCT, an 8-speed DCT that plugs into this architecture with the right dimensions,” he noted.

Lower position of the mid-mounted engine also complicated any use of a manual gearbox

Beyond making a transaxle-style transmission fit in the Corvette, the engineering team faced other challenges. The low placement of the dry sump-fed LT2 6.2-liter V-8 in its midship placement also affected the transmission.

“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. 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,” Juechter said.

Unfortunately for enthusiasts, the Corvette team solved that equation without allowing for another variable: the manual. While the mid-engine design looks promising from a performance standpoint, a big piece of Corvette history just died.

This article was originally published by Motor Authority, an editorial partner of ClassicCars.com.

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25 Comments

  • SALVADORE Bertolone
    July 24, 2019, 2:22 PM

    are z06, zr1 being ordered by dealers at a 6:1 ratio, or customers? i think for the performance models, the customer more often gets the manual, but if the dealer is stocking it they are throwing automatics on the lot.

    REPLY
    • Edward Cooper@SALVADORE Bertolone
      July 28, 2019, 11:35 AM

      You cannot manually shift faster than the C8. Performance? The C8 is a rocket ship. This is not your grandma’s car.

      REPLY
      • Harold Thompson@Edward Cooper
        August 2, 2019, 6:49 AM

        To some, shifting faster is not the point. Enjoying driving the car is. Paddle shifters are for those that doesn’t want to learn to drive a manual. By the way dct is not a manual.

        REPLY
  • Bob Lavieri
    July 24, 2019, 2:23 PM

    If the GM spokes person worked for me, he would be fired. GM should be embarrassed by his tone and content. GM will die with more like him. A standard trans. is smaller and lighter than an auto. trans.. And, most importantly a blast to drive! Readers, don’t worry the after market will fix this blunder. Tremec are up for the challenge?

    REPLY
  • Tristram Buckley
    July 24, 2019, 2:25 PM

    Someone needs to tell Mr. Juechter that the petroleum engine itself is a dying industry….but that does not top Porsche and Aston Martin from making enthusiast cars with petroleum engines and manual gearboxes! It’s not just about sales! It is about image and that is key for a brand’s halo car. The image of a true pure driver’s car (e.g., still with classic small block Chevy) is watered down if not destroyed as now any person, literally without any driving skill, can drive a Corvette. Now when people see the new Corvette they won’t waste their time to peer in the window and see if its a real manual gearbox or just an automatic…..they’ll know this knew car is just like their grandma’s Oldsmobile: You can just put it in drive and go.

    REPLY
  • P G
    July 24, 2019, 2:37 PM

    Wow. That suxs.

    REPLY
  • Rick Hane
    July 24, 2019, 3:17 PM

    No Manual NO DEAL!!! They should never puts an automatic in a Corvette!!! NO muscle car should have an automatic, every time I see a muscle car with an automatic it makes me sick. NOT cool, not fun, if someone wants an automatic drive a Cadillac!!!!

    REPLY
    • Rules Of Logic@Rick Hane
      July 24, 2019, 3:32 PM

      More Corvettes have been sold with automatics than manuals every year since 1972.

      REPLY
    • Dan White@Rick Hane
      July 24, 2019, 5:57 PM

      I really wanted the new Corvette, so much car for the price, but I’ll never waste money on an automatic.
      So sad.

      REPLY
    • Palmer Humphrey@Rick Hane
      July 24, 2019, 5:57 PM

      I really had no intention of buying a new Corvette, but with out a 6 speed manual, I guess my dream car will stick with the Mustang GT. Corvette drivers have become "wimps".

      REPLY
    • Bill Cochrane@Rick Hane
      July 24, 2019, 6:38 PM

      You obviously have never driven a McLaren 720 or others that use the Temec DSC.
      There amazing.
      Nothing todo with a turbohydomatic.

      REPLY
    • Robert Faris@Rick Hane
      July 28, 2019, 9:44 AM

      Ever since I was a kid, whenever I would look into a muscle or sports car and see an automatic trans, I would turn away and not look back. I can not tell you how many cars that I have changed from auto. to manuel. A Corvette with an automatic is totally SHIFTLESS.

      REPLY

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