Many things in the auto industry are slowly dying, but perhaps the most tears have been shed by enthusiasts for the manual transmission. The writing has been on the wall for some time, but so far, few brands have sent out a clearer signal than Mercedes Benz did on Tuesday.
As the brand’s chief of R&D Marcus Schaeffer says, the company will “eliminate manual transmissions” in order to cut costs and streamline production. He also says the brand will go forward with a “substantial reduction in platforms” and a “very dramatic reduction in combustion engines.” We know all of this thanks to a tweet by auto journalist Greg Kable.
That news isn’t quite as sad for Americans as it is for Europeans. Mercedes hasn’t sold a manual transmission-equipped vehicle in the United States since 2011, when the last six-speed stick was sold in the sport trim of the C300. Even then, we’re not really certain why you would want it. The European models still available with a manual transmission are also extremely limited, with the A-Class being the only stick shift Benz still for sale in the U.K.
The Drive contacted a spokesperson for Mercedes, who gave the following statement:
“We will reduce our ICE powertrain portfolio by 40 percent until 2025 and up to 70 percent by 2030. This includes that we will not offer manual transmissions in the mid-term. However, this change will happen ‘naturally’ when we change to a new generation of vehicles.”
So to be clear, the brand isn’t just removing the transmission from its current European offerings. The stick shift will be phased out gradually.
That being said, Mercedez is not a brand known for its manual transmissions. Being as well-versed in the luxury market as it is, it’s not exactly something it has to put a lot of time into. The automatic is much more suited to the cars it sends to the United States, and with the brand pushing for more and more fully electric vehicles, it will end up making fewer transmissions anyway.
So while this news may upset people, it should only be a few people. If you’re still mad, however, we’ll comfort you by saying the supply of used Benzes with manual transmissions likely won’t run out any time soon.
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