Mercedes to Ditch Manual Gearboxes?
In a further indicator that the long-term shift is away from manual gearboxes, Mercedes have announced that they are to stop making cars with manual transmissions.
The move is not imminent, there has been no timeline laid out, but their intention is clear. In the UK and Europe, future Mercedes vehicles will only have automatic gearboxes.
This development is somewhat in line with recent trends. In log posts over the past few months we have covered how automatics are increasingly popular as used cars, we have seen the sats on how learner drivers are increasingly choosing to pass their test in an automatic.
With drivers migrating towards automatics and car manufacturers prioritising these forms of transmission, it was perhaps inevitable that carmakers would at some stage simply cease production of manuals.
With Mercedes, the benefit of hindsight shows us that this change was coming. In the United States a manual transmission has not been available since 2015, the last model was the ’15 SLK250.
Nevertheless, European drivers have been somewhat more attached to their manual transmissions, the pleasure of driving, the driving experience often cited as a key factor in choosing a car – this arguably less of an issue on the vast expanses of American freeways.
Concerns With Automatics
Advancements in this area, automatics starting to have the punch and drivability of a manual, have certainly helped though it remains to be seen whether the public will agree.
The gearbox change is not the only alteration at Mercedes, a more general overhaul is also planned. As part of a drive to produce greener, more efficient vehicles they are also reducing the overall number of engine variants and looking to share features across models more than has commonly been the place.
Other makes have a clear lead in this area, sharing components across models and so saving greatly on costs including research and development.
“We need to reduce complexity,” Mercedes-Benz research and development boss Markus Schäfer told AutoCar.
“Complexity adds costs. We’re going to reduce future products, reduce platforms substantially, combustion engines will be very dramatically reduced and we will eliminate the manual transmission.
“We’re going to a more modular strategy, and we will reduce the number of options significantly.”
Mercedes clearly think this reduction of options will boost, or at least maintain their business. What will be fascinating is how others react. Will their rivals follow suit, or will this embolden them, will they welcome the fact that there is now one less competition for those seeking a manual gearbox?
Alternatively, will Mercedes’ strategy be proven to the right one? There is a trend towards hybrid and electric vehicles and away from manual transmissions on petrol and diesel engines. Have Mercedes stolen a march, or have they overestimated the speed of the shift in the UK?
Our guess is we’ll be seeing Mercedes gearboxes – manual and otherwise – coming into us for repairs still for the foreseeable future.
ABOUT NORTH WESTTRANSMISSIONS
At North West Transmissions we repair gearboxes or source replacement with guaranteed refurbished units.
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All reconditioned gearboxes come with guarantees for 12 months or 12,000 miles while reconditioned automatic units come with a re-manufactured torque converter that has a lifetime guarantee.
Our technicians are all highly skilled with vast experience in reconditioning and repairing all units – importantly their efficiency helps cut down the price of repairs and so too the cost.
Gearbox problems are all-too common. If you find yourself in need of a repair or reconditioned unit, that often being the more economical option in the long term, please contact us.
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