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Here's How The C8 Corvette Could Get A Manual Gearbox

Sports Car

Put it this way: technically, it's possible.

Perhaps the second most controversial thing about the all-new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette is its lack of a manual transmission. Switching to a mid-engine design is the most talk about change, of course. But the fact the C8 lacks a manual, for the first time in the model’s decades-long history, is also a big deal. For now, the C8 has just one transmission option: a new eight-speed dual-clutch co-developed with Tremec. Despite Chevrolet officials going on record that no manual or conventional automatic gearbox are planned, it’s still possible for the C8 to accommodate a manual, technically speaking.

Motor Trend did some digging into GM’s transmission parts bin, so to speak, and concluded that the automaker already has the necessary components to build a manual-equipped C8. What would this look like? "A manual shifter that tells the transmission which gear to select and an electronic clutch pedal,” according to MT.

Basically, Chevy is capable of using its existing technology to build an electronically actuated manual. There would still be a gearshift, but it would not have a physical connection to the transmission. It would instead work by having an electronic clutch that would provide artificial feedback to drivers in order to maintain the "feel” of the clutch pedal. This technology already exists for brake-by-wire systems and, basically, could be adapted to make an electronic clutch pedal feel like a mechanical one. The existing eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox would work, actually, and when it’s time to switch cogs, the driver would press the clutch and move the shifter.

Software engineers would need to write a lot of new code telling the transmission what it needs to go when the driver presses the clutch and moves the shifter. Think of it as a virtual manual instead of a mechanical manual. A bit unusual, yes, but it would work.

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It would also be unquestionably cheaper than shopping around for a conventional manual for the C8, which would then require a huge investment in road and track testing, emissions, and more crash tests. None of that is worth it for the relatively few manuals Chevy would likely sell. This virtual manual, because it would utilize the existing eight-speed DCT (which has already undergone the above testing) could offer the best solution and satisfy purists.