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Electric cars – and irrationality – could save the gear lever



As anyone who handles gear shifters knows, many people are no longer interested in gear shifters. In 2006, almost half of the models sold in America were offered with a manual transmission. Now this number is less than 20 percent and sinks. The Americans bought 17.2 million cars last year – just 2 percent of them rolled off the pitch with a third pedal.

That's understandable. In recent decades, automatic transmissions have not only made driving easier, but have also caught up with the manuals in terms of performance and fuel efficiency. And it's expensive for automakers to develop two vehicle variants, especially if only a few buyers are attracted. Even companies that are known for sporty cars refrain from sticks. The new BMW M5 no longer offers a manual option. Neither will the mid-engine C8 Chevrolet Corvette. Ferrari and Lamborghini issued manuals at the beginning of this decade.

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But some high-end automakers have stuck to the manual gearbox ̵

1; and believe its role could actually expand. "In a world where everyone talks about autonomous driving, in my opinion, those who can afford it, and those who have a passion for cars, want them to go in the opposite direction," says the CEO by Aston Martin Andy Palmer. "They want something interactive, something they have to work on to have fun, and that is what drives the revival of manual transmissions."

For Aston, this resurrection has last seen the form of the 185,000-horsepower Aston Martin Vantage AMR A notched seven-speed manual transmission changes the style of the Aston entry-level sports car (the $ 150,000 Vantage) .The funny thing about the AMR is that, although it's two hundred pounds lighter, and the same 503 hp V8 engine as the base car It takes half a second longer to get from 0 to 60 miles per hour, so it seems the computer can shift faster and put the power on the pavement better than anyone could hope for.

"Obviously you need one Electric motor no manual or no gear at all. But it can be said that this is not a rational decision.

Andy Palmer, CEO of Aston Martin

And it does not matter As I found out in a day sprint through the mountains of West Germany, the AMR, which is lost through acceleration, more than makes up for the joy and commitment. By operating the gears themselves I got a more direct analogue connection to the car, a better sense of control, joy and opportunity. A manual transmission lets you notice certain moments more: a tight turn (downshift to second), a climb (turn back to third) or the presence of cheering children waiting for the bus (Neutral, turning the engine repeatedly) … Just as writing down things affects the brain, driving a stick makes a journey more vivid, more tactile and memorable.

Palmer, a Former gear technician, it has set itself the goal of keeping manual transmission in the Aston Martin series, not only despite, but because of his r lack of functionality. Also in the resistance is Porsche, who continues to offer a manual in his sports car, including the new 2020 911 Carrera S. Despite the presence of his wonderful PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission, nearly twenty percent of the 911 buyers row their own gears. "It's not the most efficient way to drive a car, and it's not the fastest way to drive a car," says Porsche Project Manager Heiko Mayer. "But our customers enjoy the manual transmission." And so Porsche will continue to offer it.

The joy of switching is so great for some that they retain the manual, even with sports cars converted to battery operation. Which is surprisingly possible. Michael Bream is a leading evangelist for this type of conversion. The founder and CEO of EV West near San Diego, Bream, designs custom and commercial products designed to help customers convert their air-cooled vintage VWs, Porsche and other gas-powered vehicles to electric drive. It strives to make the transition as seamless as possible, including minimizing the destruction or replacement of existing components. And for many classics that means getting the original manual transmission.


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