The dust has yet to settle on the newly-unveiled C8 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, but it seems like one thing is certain – the mid-engined American sports car will not be available with a manual transmission. This effectively means the previous C7 Corvette with the seven-speed manual is the last of its kind.
Corvette lead engineer Tadge Juechter told Motor Authority that “building manual transmissions is a dying industry” and there is no chance the company will go out of its way to build a manual gearbox for the C8 model. Juechter added that a manual Corvette wouldn’t sell well enough to make it worth a supplier’s effort to design and develop.
“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. It’s low volume, very expensive. The reason is it’s a low-volume industry,” he noted, adding that the take-up rate for manual Corvettes has plummeted to 15%.
“Every year it goes down, down, down, down. It’s a dying business. The people who make a living building manual transmissions, they see that it’s not a bright future for them,” he explained.
Porsche once tried ditching the manual from the 911 GT3 and that upset buyers, who have since bought the stick-shifting variant. According to Porsche North America CEO Klaus Zellmer, two out of three buyers choose the manual 911 GT3. Juechter said the same won’t happen with the Corvette.
Apparently, the 15% take-up rate mentioned earlier was specific to performance variants like the Z06, which historically has only been offered with a manual gearbox. As soon as an automatic model was introduced, “everybody buys the automatic,” Juechter said.
Volkswagen, meanwhile, had just introduced the new MQ281 manual gearbox
Moving forward, all variations of the Corvette will be equipped with the newly-developed eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. It was designed and developed in close collaboration with Tremec, and Juechter said it’s simply not a plug-and-play unit. The DCT had to be made specially for the Corvette.
Beyond the transaxle-style transmission, the engineering team also faced other challenges, especially with the low placement of the dry sump-fed LT2 6.2 litre V8 in its midship placement.
“The engine placement puts a huge burden on the transmission, 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 tonne of complexity around that. That’s one of the equations we have to solve,” Juechter added.