Ferrari Officially Abandons the Manual Gearbox

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
ferrari officially abandons the manual gearbox

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)]

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  • 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" ..

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