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Mercedes-Benz Flags the End of the Manual Transmission

In news that will send a shiver down the spine of motoring purists, Mercedes-Benz has signalled the end is nigh for the beloved manual transmission.

That’s according to Mercedes-Benz’s head of innovative work, Markus Schaefer, who made the comments suggesting curtains were drawing near as the brand shifts its attention to electrifying its vehicle line-up.

The German manufacturer will produce six models under the EQ badge, furthering its focus on a format that has yet to gain traction, but is seen as the ‘future’. Among its combustion line-up, plug-in hybrids are set to fill the void as combustion engines are consolidated across a series of Mercedes-Benz platforms.

At the heart of the decision is a drive by the company to reduce costs by standardising architecture across the company. In effect, Mercedes-Benz is promoting a modular strategy, which will limit variations between models, but help to keep manufacturing costs in check to support funding elsewhere.



Were the clues already in place?

The move away from manual has arguably been in the works for some time now. Among Mercedes-Benz’s current international line-up, larger variants have long been confined to automatic transmissions. Only a few cars have been fitted with a manual transmission, mostly entry-level variants in the A and C Class ranges. Closer to home, and the entire breadth of Mercedes-Benz’s passenger vehicle series is fitted with an automatic transmission.

You certainly can’t say the writing hasn’t been on the wall for a while now.

The bigger question from here on in, however, will be what impact this move has on the broader new car industry. Are we set to see an increasing number of manufacturers abandon the manual format in favour of a simpler set-up, thereby standardising combustion vehicle architecture in order to focus on electric vehicle research and development.

Only time will tell, but this may just be the beginning of an industry-wide trend.