Ferrari Officially Abandons the Manual Gearbox

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ferrari has officially added its name to the list of automakers that will no longer offer a manual transmission.

The company’s chief technology officer, Michael Hugo Leiters, explained the decision at the Paris Auto Show last week, citing performance and technology as the motivating factors.

Goodbye, gate.

“Ferrari is design, performance, and state of the art technologies,” Leiters said. “There’s no manual transmission that can beat this performance and therefore we have decided to stay on the double-clutch gearbox.”

Ferrari isn’t the first company to move onto dual-clutch only setups and it won’t be the last. Many performance-minded brands have turned their back on offering anything with a clutch pedal in favor of quicker-shifting semi-automatic gearboxes. The only notable exception is Porsche, which claims it will continue producing some 911s with a manual transmission so long as there is a market for it. Whether there will continue to be a large enough draw to make it a profitable endeavor is another story.

Despite being famous for their gorgeous gated gear selectors, Ferrari has steadily decreased production of traditional manuals since they introduced paddle shifters on the 1997 F355. The company’s California was the final vehicle to offer a manual transmission — available only by special order — resulting in extremely limited numbers. And all-new California Ts persist with the 7-speed dual-clutch as the only option.

[Source: Motor Authority] [Image: Christian Junker/ Flickr ( CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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12 of 97 comments
  • IBx1 IBx1 on Oct 11, 2016

    Bunch of pansy-ass accountants running that company. I wonder how much horsepower Enzo is putting out spinning in his grave like this?

  • Notapreppie Notapreppie on Oct 11, 2016

    I feel like this is when Apple ditched the floppy drive on the iMac... A lot of people up in arms except the people that actually mattered: buyers.

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    • Bumpy ii Bumpy ii on Oct 11, 2016

      @carrya1911 Oh yeah. Duck Hunt would have been fun, but the Zapper doesn't work on modern TVs. :( A hack to let you shoot the dog would have been the best mod in the history of time. You can play Tecmo Bowl and pretend Bo Jackson is driving a Kia.

  • Carrya1911 Carrya1911 on Oct 11, 2016

    Track times are largely irrelevant. Most of the cars will never see a track. Just like most dive-rated watches will never see water deeper than the family pool. Speaking of watches, mechanical watches are still a thing. People spend ridiculous amounts of money on them despite the fact that you can get relatively inexpensive quartz watches that will keep precise time for decades without needing any of the TLC that the mechanical watches require to stay in working order. People often discuss how little time these watches lose, but ultimately that is not the deciding factor. A good manual shift is certainly not going to be as fast around the track in most people's hands...but that's largely irrelevant as most people won't use the car that way. A good manual shift is a *lot* more fun on a good drive than any paddle shifter. Indeed, the very presence of a good manual can turn an ordinary drive into an enjoyable one. I don't care about lap times. It's the experience. Working through a nice gated manual shifter is an extremely pleasant and rewarding experience. This is why the classics will hold a decent level of value even when various bubbles burst and the massive amounts of money chasing cars stops. If we drew a Venn diagram of Ferrari customers and expensive mechanical watch owners, I'd dare say the Ferrari circle would exist almost entirely inside the watch circle. Manuals won't sell because they're old and a group of people who are wearing watches that function on old and outdated principles. People who paid handsomely for that extra complication and inconvenience because of what it represents or what it says about them. I'd argue the manual's fate is more in the hands of the people who don't want to make them anymore (for whatever reason) moreso than the preferences of the market. The market's preferences are pretty malleable.

    • Thattruthguy Thattruthguy on Oct 12, 2016

      Mechanical watches are beautiful objects and indicators of wealth, but they don't require any personal skill, nor much effort, to use every day. The maintenance is performed by someone else. A stickshift car requires skillful use, and sucks in stopped traffic. Also, other household members must enjoy the stick to enjoy driving the car. Collector cars usually put a premium on sticks, but they also usually put a premium on convertible tops, even though most new buyers have preferred closed cars for almost 100 years. Different market than new cars.

  • Stanczyk Stanczyk on Oct 15, 2016

    Nouveau-riche, ignorant consumers are just lazy .. , that's why they want their cars to be less engaging .. .. Pony cars should have gated gear selectors , instead of this "flabby leather on the stick" ..