Look at that guy in the stock photo, driving the new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette. He is feeling the thrill of 495 horsepower right behind his back. He is basking in the sun as it shines on his face. What he is not doing—what he will never do, unfortunately—is shifting gears with a stick and a clutch pedal.
Thanks to Motor Authority, we now have confirmation that the new mid-engine Corvette’s sole gearbox choice will be its eight-speed dual-clutch unit, and not a traditional manual gearbox. This likely comes as a blow to the Corvette faithful, who have pretty much always had their choice of a stick or an automatic.
But it isn’t that much of a surprise. Since we got a hold of a leaked order guide several months ago, it’s been readily apparent that a true manual wasn’t in the cards for the new C8. It’s basically been DCT or nothing since the get-go.
But please, let Corvette engineering boss Tadge Juechter lay it out in stark terms:
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.
“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.”
Dying, he says! There’s no mincing words here. We are truly in an age when the manuals are an endangered species as DCTs and even torque converter-based automatics get better at daily driving and nailing the lap times that are so important to the marketing copy.
That’s true even on legit sports cars like the Corvette. Juechter told the website that the manual take-rate on the ‘Vette dropped to just 15 percent, and that’s true even on really hardcore models like the Z06. Fifteen percent! On the Z06! “And as soon as we offer the automatic, everybody buys the automatic,” Juechter said.
Well, we have no one to blame but ourselves, I suppose.
But as cool as a manual, naturally aspirated, V8 mid-engine car would be in 2019, I’m not terribly sad. I’m sure the DCT will get the job done just fine. Nearly all supercars roll that way these days anyway. If you don’t like it, you should’ve bought more manual Corvettes.
Head on over to Motor Authority for more details, including the challenges with building and placing that transmission in the new car.