Why there’s no manual gearbox for C8 Corvette

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Paddles on the steering column, such as the one shown here for downshifts, can be used to change gears in the C8 Corvette, but there will be no clutch pedal and manual gearbox to manipulate | Chevrolet photos

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.

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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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26 COMMENTS

  1. 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.

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

      • 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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!!!!

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

    • 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".

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

    • 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.

  5. If the manual transmission is a dying business, as Mr. Juechter so sternly points out; then how come every other performance car sold in America can sell all day long with a manual, often with no automatic option? I.e. The Ford Mustang Shelby GT 350 does not have an automatic at all, neither do the Fiesta/Focus ST. Porsche, Aston Martin, Ferrari, and other high-dollar European sports cars come almost solely with manuals. And these are the same cars that are accustomed to seeing the Corvette’s taillights!
    It seems to me that Mr. Juechter is setting this new Corvette up for failure right out of the gate. GM needs to fire this gentleman and replace him with someone who understands what American drivers really want! As someone else said, it’s not about sales it’s about FUN! IT’s about image in the America’s halo sports/performance car.

    • "Porsche, Aston Martin, Ferrari, and other high-dollar European sports cars come almost solely with manuals. "

      Uh, sorry, but no. Ferrari hasn’t had anything with a manual transmission since about 2010, Aston Martin keeps claiming they’ll make a DB11 with a manual, but so far only DCTs. Porsche does still have a good number of cars with manual transmissions, but they sell way more cars without than with.

  6. If Chevrolet ONLY made manual transmission Corvettes then that’s what people would buy. I always check the transmission when I walk by a sports car – manuals get a nod, automatics get a snicker. Chevy definitely erred on this one.

    • I considered a manual for my C7, but then I thought about driving it in traffic and said no thanks and got the 8-speed automatic. Driving along with the speed moving quickly from 15 to 35 mph and back and having to push in the clutch every 30 seconds or so is tiring and annoying. Not to mention wear and tear on the clutch.

  7. So, according to GM, a manual transaxle in a mid-engined car "sits too low", is more difficult to cool, and nobody wants it anyway.
    Um, Ferrari? Lamborghini? Do they know this? Seems to me they sold every
    mid-engined manual they chose to make, and sometimes left folks wanting, and I don’t remember reading about any overheating boxes or bitching about ground clearance; oh, and stick v. auto in the same car at auction?
    Well, I guess I keep my GTO with the 6spd Tremec. A ‘Vette with an automatic is a poseurs car- quicker shifts or not- the sort of thing that appeals to pot bellied middle management types who can’t let either polyester or the ’70’s go. Sigh.
    This thing had so much potential…
    That Bolt thing best save GM, ‘cuz I suspect they left a huge number of high income ‘Vette customers on the table. Any moron with face in phone can "drive" an auto, so where’s the pride in skill and ownership? My dad worked for GM his entire life (Delco-Remy, Anderson, IN), and I grew up with some of the best GM had on offer during the ’60’s & early ’70’s. These bean counting clowns will be fortunate dad doesn’t rise from the grave and pay ’em a visit. He’s pissed, I know, death notwithstanding.

  8. Theres nothing i see wrong with this decision – its as strong as a manual – you can still decide when to upshift or downshift + it does this in 100th of a second ! I still drive an early vette inspured 4l60e trans vehicle and its more of a manualmatic but still a thrill to drive and the shifting is on point !

  9. This is a wonderful car for little girls and posers. If anyone can kill a car, it’s GM
    On the other hand, The value of older models with manual trannies has just increased.

    I’m sure though it will be an opportunity for aftermarket manufacturers. GM if it were not under complete control of the accounting department might forge an alliance with a third party supplier for a limited edition version with a manual. It’s a niche market and as such can command its price.

  10. Chevy did their homework and found that Mommy & Daddy didn’t teach todays Vette buyers how to drive a manual transmission equipped vehicle. Plus, it’s too hard to shift & text at the same time.

  11. The Automatic in the C8 makes good sense and good driving. We have all sat in line in traffic on an incline waiting for a light to change. One foot on the Clutch and the other foot precariously balanced between the brake and the accelerator. Personally, I would rather have my right hand free to eat a hamburger or drink my coffee. My 2004 C5 was plenty fast and I could drive in and out of traffic and even race with a cup of coffee in one hand. No doubt the power of the C8 will require both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Besides, you can’t shift faster than the C8 automatic can. Now, you can relax and enjoy the ride.

  12. Subaru STI dont even have a automatic as a option. Manual transmission is the only way to go I don’t mind shifting at all. I enjoy shifting a automatic just doesnt cut it for me. We rented a Corvette in Hawaii and of course it was a automatic it was a great car but I would have rather had a manual

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