We'll Never Abandon the Three-pedal Lifestyle: Aston Martin CEO

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
well never abandon the three pedal lifestyle aston martin ceo

Who loves stick shifts? Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer loves stick shifts!

In an industry that’s rapidly heading towards autonomous vehicles, “mobility solutions” and other high-tech dreams of a 21st century society, Old World charm is becoming increasingly hard to find. Leave it to a British automaker to take a stand for old technology.

During a speech at the Canadian International Auto Show this morning, Palmer declared his devotion to the antiquated row-your-own transmission, stating that Aston Martin will always keep the three-pedal lifestyle alive.

In his address, Palmer said that Aston Martin will always have at least one model available with a manual transmission. Always — as in forever and ever. For 2017, Aston returned the stick as an option on the V12 Vantage S.

Many will hope that Palmer, as well as other automakers, succeed in keeping the dream alive, though the group is perpetually dwindling in numbers.

An Edmunds study published late last year showed that less than 3 percent of the vehicles sold in the U.S. were stick-shift models. Europeans are known to enjoy manually changing their own gears, but those numbers are slipping. It’s also more due to a quirk of history. In the 1940s, there were far more pressing issues facing Europe than worrying about how to give a person’s left foot a rest while driving.

Now, automatic transmissions with eight, nine, or ten speeds battle it out with smooth, never-shifting continuously variable units and sporty, lightning-quick dual-clutch gearboxes.

Ferrari has already abandoned its manual transmissions. So has Lamborghini. Porsche seems to be on the road to doing so, though it maintains — like other automakers — that it will produce manuals only if there’s sufficient demand.

We don’t know if Palmer’s decree will be chiseled in stone and placed at the gates to Aston Martin’s Gaydon headquarters in Warwickshire, England, but perhaps it should. Palmer might feel this way, but the next CEO to come along could feel differently. Actually, so could Aston buyers.

Still, it’s nice to see a CEO from a country best known for burled walnut, tweed and breakfast fishes keeping the torch of tradition aflame.

[Image: Aston Martin]

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  • SoberD SoberD on Feb 17, 2017

    Perhaps he sees all the money being made on 'pre-owned' limited-edition manual transmission cars (911R, Ferrari 599) and figured there's a way for AM to get in on that. Sell X00 manual vantages for Y00,000. Allow VPs to drive a few for 3k miles. Sell 'certified pre-owned' for 3*Y00,000.

  • IBx1 IBx1 on Feb 17, 2017

    "At least one" car with a manual option; just so happens to be the same car that came out around 2002 or so. All their newer releases and concepts have been automatic, which is why I can't remember what most of their concept cars look like.

  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
  • Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.
  • Marvin Im a current owner of a 2012 Golf R 2 Door with 5 grand on the odometer . Fun car to drive ! It's my summer cruiser. 2006 GLI with 33,000 . The R can be money pit if service by the dealership. For both cars I deal with Foreign car specialist , non union shop but they know their stuff !!! From what I gather the newer R's 22,23' too many electronic controls on the screen, plus the 12 is the last of the of the trouble free ones and fun to drive no on screen electronics Maze !
  • VoGhost It's very odd to me to see so many commenters reflexively attack an American company like this. Maybe they will be able to find a job with BYD or Vinfast.