Don't blame it on engineering constraints or performance.
Just in case there hasn’t been enough digital ink spilled about the C8 Corvette yet, we have gotten our hands on a new report about the 8th-generation of the muscle car and one of its most talked-about absent features: a manual transmission. There have been many theories about why Chevy decided not to include three pedals and a shift leaver in the new Corvette, ranging from a new dashboard layout that doesn’t leave enough space for a manual to the performance benefits of a dual-clutch, but according to Car and Driver, none of those explanations are completely correct.
C&D knows this because it recently sat down with Tadge Juechter, the executive chief engineer in charge of developing the C8 Corvette, and grilled him on behalf of enthusiasts around the world.
At first, Juechter listed a few reasons that contributed to his team’s decision to forgo a manual transmission. One of those is the fact that a manual would require engineers to breech the C8's central tunnel in order to install the mechanical linkages from the stick to the gearbox. "That tunnel is the backbone of the car, and if you break the backbone, you lose a lot of structural efficiency,” says Juechter. "With a shifter, you have to have a big hole in the tunnel for the linkage to go through.”
Still, Juechter’s explanation is only one of the contributing factors since it doesn’t excuse the team completely. Especially after we learned that it’s technically possible for Chevy to install a manual transmission in the C8 without interfering with the central tunnel by combining a shift-by-wire system with an electronically-controlled clutch, both of which are already in GM’s parts bin.
The real reason Chevy took the Corvette’s manual away, according to Juechter, is the same reason most other cars once available with three pedals go automatic-only: not enough demand. That’s right, you can blame the lack of a manual in the C8 to those pesky Corvette buyers who opted for an automatic in their C7s. Though the C7’s manual take rate hovered near a fantastic 50% around the time the model was new, that number steadily dropped to around 20%
In order for Chevy to keep development costs low enough to turn a profit on the C8 despite offering a base model for less than $60,000, Juechter’s team had to forgo developing a manual. Besides, a dual-clutch transmission is the only way to achieve the C8’s impressive 2.8 second 0-60 mph time.