If you belong to those few still hoping for GM to roll out a manual transmission option for the new C8 Corvette, then we have some bad news for you.
Speaking with Corvette lead engineer Tadge Juechter, Motor Authority asked him whether a manual option is coming back. The answer was a rather straight-forward “No.”
Juechter added that a manual C8 Corvette would simply not sell good enough to justify a supplier’s effort to develop and the costs involved.
“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.”
Fewer and fewer customers opt for the manual in the Corvette, dropping the take-rate to around 15 percent, according to Juechter. “Every year it goes down, down, down, down,” he said.
Porsche did try to drop the manual option from its hardcore GT models too, but was met with criticism from customers. They listened and eventually offered the 911 GT3 with a manual transmission again. Since then, two out of three buyers go for the three-pedal version according to Porsche North America CEO Claus Zellmer.
Juechter says that this 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 2020 C8 Corvette will feature a new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. GM worked with Tremec to develop it specifically for the new ‘Vette. “We don’t just find a DCT, an 8-speed DCT that plugs into this architecture with the right dimensions,” he added.
The challenge was to create a transaxle-style transmission that could work with the 6.2-liter LT2 V8. Having a dry sump enabled engineers to mount the V8 lower but that created a whole range of other issues for the gearbox during development.
“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.
While the new DCT-equipped C8 is expected to be better in every measurable way, the death of the manual Corvette still makes us feel a bit sad.