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Manual is Dead! Long Live Semi-Manual!

Posted April 22, 2010 7:59 AM

High-end supercar manufacturers like Lamborghini and Ferrari are phasing out availability of traditional manual transmission gearboxes. Most performance car owners forgo a manual transmission. Dual-clutch, automatic-manual transmissions now available can provide precise shift changes with improved performance and fuel economy than shift slinging by hand. This Wired piece poses the question: is the manual transmission dead?

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#1

Re: Manual is Dead! Long Live Semi-Manual!

04/22/2010 9:01 AM

is the manual transmission dead?
No
...next!
Del

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#2

Re: Manual is Dead! Long Live Semi-Manual!

04/22/2010 9:15 AM

I agree with Del, that the manual transmission is not dead yet, still since automatic transmissions are typically stronger, I am for them, in general.

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#3

Re: Manual is Dead! Long Live Semi-Manual!

04/22/2010 10:31 PM

The manual transmission die? Come on. No one would ever imagine a world without three pedals on the floor of a sports car. That's as dumb as saying that all cars will have fuel injected engines or anti-lock brakes or power steering or air conditioning or..............................

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#4

Re: Manual is Dead! Long Live Semi-Manual!

04/22/2010 11:06 PM

autos waste so much of the worlds precious fuel that they should all be banned... now..

excuse me while I get off my soap box

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Anonymous Poster
#5
In reply to #4

Re: Manual is Dead! Long Live Semi-Manual!

04/23/2010 7:16 AM

As you get off your soap box and climb into your V8 SUV to go to the store and buy an over packaged product? LOL

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#6

Re: Manual is Dead! Long Live Semi-Manual!

04/23/2010 10:35 AM

How am I supposed to drive, text, pick a song on my ipod, smoke a cigarette and change gears all at the same time?

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Manual is Dead! Long Live Semi-Manual!

04/23/2010 11:09 AM

Yeah.

Back in the day when driving was fun, and you might be even able to impress some girl with how smoothly accomplished you were at shifting gears, driving is a lot more work than fun anymore. In the state I now live, where I lived as a young guy in Nascar land, trained to drive by Nascar licensed Boy Scout leaders, well, it was fun.

I'll tell you one thing that really makes me love Automatic Transmissions, and that was driving the CargoStar International around Manhattan that had one. What a great truck that thing was. Typically I was hauling 10 ten tons. 12'3", and a 24' box, and it was hard enough.

Drove a Taxi too. Didn't want to be shifting 12 hours a day either.

Sure, for light duty, or hobby cars, the manual transmission has its appeal, but for work vehicles, well I'm all over any mechanisms that make it easier, and stronger.

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#8

Re: Manual is Dead! Long Live Semi-Manual!

04/23/2010 7:40 PM

In diesel powered light trucks, the automatic transmission equipped models often have slightly higher maximum towing capacities. I suspect that this is because of reduced driveline shock.

Never-the-less, I vastly prefer the precise control of the manual transmission, and they usually deliver somewhat better fuel economy. Besides, with an automatic transmission, my right hand and left foot have nothing to do. My next truck will be a diesel 4x4 with a 6 speed manual. I've already started shopping for it.

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#9

Re: Manual is Dead! Long Live Semi-Manual!

04/23/2010 7:46 PM

If my new car is any indication, these auto-manual (or, more precisely, program-induced-solenoidual) transmissions do not consistently match the precision of skilled (rare) hand shift-ers; in fact (below a certain price) quite the opposite.

On the other hand, the advantage of stick shift emulation (shift by wire) in terms of also emulating fuel savings—that and the increasing lost-art status of hand-foot shifting—would seem to portend the death knell of "normal" manuals. One might expect, however, that semi-automatics will continue to find greatest application as a means to offer larger engines (that market niche where fuel economy disparity twixt normal (i.e., torque-feedback-controlled) and manual (i.e., brain controlled) transmissions is most pronounced. But, where the cost and profitability (versus fuel savings) of providing hand-shift emulation is a significant factor (that is, with smaller engines in cheaper cars) as long as hand shifting is the lower cost alternative, manual transmissions should persist; and this currently seems to be the case in the lower price segments.

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Manual is Dead! Long Live Semi-Manual!

04/23/2010 8:14 PM

You realize, of course that 90% of the people who read this will have absolutely no idea about what you are speaking.

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: Manual is Dead! Long Live Semi-Manual!

04/23/2010 8:34 PM

Alas, I perceived it before posting, but was content to be misunderstood— in hopes of...second looks—rather than risk seeming to publically reprove. But your posting brings gratification in that I am not alone in having an idea about what I am speaking.

Thanks

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#12
In reply to #11

Re: Manual is Dead! Long Live Semi-Manual!

04/23/2010 8:40 PM

I'm thrilled that you were gratified.

Farewell.

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#13

Re: Manual is Dead! Long Live Semi-Manual!

04/24/2010 1:06 AM

I used to think automatic transmissions were for dorks. A stick shift was faster, more fuel efficient, easier to fix and generally less expensive than an automatic. Somewhere north of age 40 I changed. It took several incidents.

First was the burned out clutch from trying to pull a heavy trailer up a steep hill from a standing start. Then the day came that I just didn't want to do another clutch replacement on my everyday driver. The final kiss of death for sticks in everyday drivers came when I was faced with a need to replace a synchronizer in a Mitsubishi 5 speed and learned it would take a thousand dollars worth of special tools to get it apart. Along that same line I learned that the ability to start an engine with a "bump" start from a slow roll was no longer necessary because I had reached a combination of sufficient affluence and common sense to replace batteries at the first sign of failing.

My "toys" have sticks; but I don't use them for everyday utility stuff. Besides, putting an automatic in either of them would be a major sin.

Ed Weldon

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#14

Re: Manual is Dead! Long Live Semi-Manual!

04/24/2010 7:46 PM

...as the greeting card company would say: "...manual, for when you care enough to shift-for-yourself."

...all others, use an automatic.

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Manual is Dead! Long Live Semi-Manual!

04/25/2010 12:33 AM

Modernize you say, compromise I say. As of late I've even seen dual clutch transmissions applied to motorcycles. Possibly this is a technology that is coming, that will result in the end of the full Manual transmission.

As for me they will pry my stick from my cold dead fingers at least as far as my avatar is concerned. Automatic transmissions have become far more efficient than they were 20 years ago, lockup torque converters, five and six speeds have all helped close the gap. However I shudder to think the cost of replacing the transmission in my dodge ram.

The reviews have been good on the motorcycle equipped with a dual clutch transmission, but I am still wary of not having full control of the gear selector.

One other thing I've noticed with the advent of sophisticated automatic transmissions is a dramatic reduction in brake life, While I'm sure materials may have something to do with this phenomenon, the inherent loss of engine breaking certainly must have some impact. I replaced the front brakes on the RoadRunner for the first time in 25 years a couple of years ago. Nobody has ever accused me of driving excessive slow, there's something to be said for engine breaking. Besides it sounds really neat.

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#16
In reply to #15

Re: Manual is Dead! Long Live Semi-Manual!

04/25/2010 2:55 PM

My take on it all is that once you get into the heavies, you want all the help you can get. It has been my experience to more than once be dependent on my skills as a professional driver, for daily bread.

Probably would be a cold day in hell when I would want a motorcycle with an automatic, but for work trucks or heavy vehicles, rental fleets, cars for loan, or even heavy rental trucks, I'd not put a cent into vehicles that required more skill than is common.

I myself even hate the sound of Jake breaks, which I didn't need on the CargoStar, since I did have control of the engine via gear choices allowed by the automatic transmission, which I can swear I did have to use instead of brakes on very dangerous roads where death had occurred for others due to brake overheating and failure that was fatal.

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#17
In reply to #16

Re: Manual is Dead! Long Live Semi-Manual!

04/25/2010 8:16 PM

Does it seem to anyone besides me that people are more and more letting machines take over their cognitive processes? Consider how often you see someone pick up a calculator to find out that 2+2=4, or use an memory and auto-dial feature on cell phone. And automatic transmissions are simply another expression of the same trend.

The problem is that people learn to drive on an automatic, and then they think that a stick is a burden and a terrible thing. But if you learn to drive on a stick, thereafter you can drive anything.

I learned to drive a stick when I was 13 years old on the family farm, because our deuce and a half grain hauler had a 4 speed, and then my very first car had a four on the floor. Now, most of 40 years later, I cannot believe how many people I've met that absolutely will not, and for that matter can not, drive anything with a manual transmission. For me though, a manual is as natural as breathing.

When I get too old to drive a stick, I'll be too old to drive! That aught to be in about another half century. And I still do most math in my head!

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#18
In reply to #17

Re: Manual is Dead! Long Live Semi-Manual!

04/26/2010 12:01 AM

You said:But if you learn to drive on a stick, thereafter you can drive anything.

Funny side story . My first three cars were Manual transmissions, I had trouble when I would get in a car with an automatic transmission, my left foot kept hitting the floor.

I spent a large part of my life playing with high performance street and strip cars, besides a nostalgic value, the versatility of the clutch and Manual transmission is unsurpassed in this application.

I've only read a little about the dual clutch transmissions so I'm not sure about all their virtues or faults. Possibly they're the best of both worlds.

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