It’s official. The manual transmission will no longer come with Mercedes-Benz cars. Decades ago, manual was the way to go. Drivers had to pay attention to their speed and to the road; far more than with an automatic transmission.
However, automatic has slowly become the norm for most drivers. After all, only select gearheads prefer going with manual nowadays.
So, it makes some sense that Mercedes-Benz has opted to completely do away with manual transmission in its cars. Most drivers don’t use Mercedes-Benz vehicles for speed-intensive cars—except for the AMG and ultra-fast models—and they have almost always opted to go with auto.
That said, even though a lot of things in the auto industry are slowly being phased out, the manual transmission is one which a lot of drivers still pine for.
On October 6th, Mercedes-Benz broke the news. The chief of Research and Development, Marcus Schaeffer, said that the company will phase out manual transmissions so that it can streamline production and cut costs.
He added that going forward, Mercedes-Benz will dramatically reduce production of their combustion engines, and will also reduce their platforms.
While this news might be big in other continents, it’s not that surprising in the US. The car maker has not released or sold a vehicle with manual transmission in the United States since 2011.
In comparison, European models with manual transmission have also become extremely rare; other than customized models, only the A-Class was still being sold with a manual transmission until recently.
The Drive spoke to Mercedes spokesperson, who said that the car maker will reduce its powertrain portfolio by 40 percent until the year 2025. By 2030, it will have reduced by 70 percent. There is a high probability that diesel engines will be the first to go, thanks to increasingly stringent emission rules in Europe and many parts around the world.
In the meantime, Mercedes-Benz will not supply manual transmission. But this is a change that they claim will occur naturally as they change to a new generation of vehicles.
Goodbye, Stick Shift
Not too many people will complain about the move Mercedes-Benz has made. If anything, the world has steadily been embracing automatic transmission. Only race enthusiasts—and perhaps traditionalists—will feel like they aren’t being heard.
And it’s not just the manual transmission that’s changing. Right now, Mercedes-Benz has the largest line-up in its stellar history. So, despite announcing that they will streamline their portfolio, they haven’t lined up any specific models to be cut. That said, they did recently phase out the S-Class Convertible and the S-Class Coupe.
The brand also wants to reduce expenditure on Research and Development by more than 20 percent as compared to their spending in 2019. They have also projected that their variable costs will reduce by 1 percent compared to last year’s levels.
What could we see in 10 years? Mercedes-Benz will certainly have electrified most of its line-up, especially in the regions where electric cars aren’t a hassle to own. Their non-electric engines should also be more fuel-efficient than ever before—but, then again, that’s true for most car makers.
After streamlining their portfolio, the differences between individual models will be fewer than ever. In fact, it might be tough to tell them apart beyond the aesthetics and a few bells and whistles.
Time will tell whether Mercedes have made the right move. But, at least for now, we can empathize with gearheads as more and more car makers are limiting—or completely doing away with—the manual transmission.
Hopefully, it will make a comeback some day in the future, but we wouldn’t hold our breaths for it to return exactly as it was.