What’s the one controversial feature enthusiasts complain is missing from the 2020 C8 Corvette? As has been the trend in recent years we’re seeing some of our favorite cars sans a manual transmission option. True to form, the new Corvette can only be ordered with the new Tremec eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. For now.
The reasons are said to be about having to relieve the structural spine for a shifter and linkage would significantly weaken it as the backbone of the chassis. Also, the new Tremec is just quicker and more efficient than a human rowing through gears. Finally, in its last years, the previous C7 saw manual orders drop to 20-percent. That’s not enough to pay for new C8 stick development. So, these are three good reasons.
But as MotorTrend reports, there exists a means to adapt electronic clutch and shifter technology to simulate manual transmission shifting. Chevy already has it. An electronic clutch pedal GM recently patented combined with C7 Corvette manual-shift technology could create an electronic manual shifter for the C8.
C7 manual transmission rev-matching software already exists. A sensor in the shifter determined which gear the driver was selecting. This perfectly adjusted the clutch rotation to match the crank rotation for a smooth-as-silk manual shift. It’s the same technology used for paddle shifters. It communicates to the shifter exactly which gear is selected without any actual mechanical link.
Now, combine that function with a clutch pedal incorporating the same tech used to make a brake-by-wire brake pedal feel like it’s mechanically linked to the master cylinder. That feedback function could be adapted for a third pedal and manual stick poking through the floor.
You would have a sensor in a manual-shift mechanism telling the transmission which gear is about to be selected. That, and a clutch pedal electronically releasing the transmission for a split-second. It’s shift-simulation simplicity. Except it wouldn’t be quite so simple.
The programming involved to make that simulation better than fake meat tastes would take miles and miles of code. But engineers have already programmed the dual-clutch transmission for different driving modes based on your mode selections. This would need more of the same programming. A lot more.
With this off-the-shelf technology adapted to the current transmission, there would be no need tooling a manual transmission. Plus, no inherent chassis reengineering. In other words: not a lot of extra parts and expensive development.
Manuals have been a part of the Corvette’s aura going back to the first 1953 models. Tradition, but also demand by the Vette’s core customers makes the Corvette a Corvette. As manuals become more scarce, it’s a feature further distinguishing a Corvette from all of the other supercars out there. Another reminder that the Corvette is an all-American symbol of everything that makes America the best country in the world.
So what is GM waiting for? Maybe it’s already in the option chute held back for the time when, in a year or two, Chevy needs a little something extra to keep the Corvette at the top of everyone’s consciousness.
C’mon Chevy. You know it’s what this legendary supercar needs to be on full-kill.