If you look deep in your heart, however much you didn’t want to admit it, you know that the manual transmission will not survive the transition to a majority-EV world. At least in mainstream vehicles; it’s likely that specialty offerings will continue on with shift-it-yourself options until, perhaps, some entity’s regulations drive the final nail in the coffin. For now, a small number of endangered survivors struggle for existence on the margins of the balance sheets. Volkswagen, for a short time, will be one of them. But by 2023, it’s game over—sort of.
Auto Motor und Sport reports that all new VW models introduced after 2023 will lack a manual transmission, although this will mainly affect vehicles in the European market. By 2030, the change will affect models sold in the U.S. and China.
Does this really change anything? For the next few years, for us, not really. The latest MkVIII GTI and Golf R are brand spanking new and offer a manual transmission; it’s not likely Volkswagen will drop it from those cars before the end of their normal product cycle. The Jetta and its sportier GLI version are also fairly recent, offer a manual, and should live out the rest of its natural life on these shores with that transmission option in place.
With all the gloom and doom around about the manual slowly going extinct, it might be hard to remember that as far as VW is concerned, the U.S. is a market that is unusually interested in manual transmissions. The take rate here is higher, the brand identity is a little different. So as weird as it is to say this, Europe is probably going to see more VW manual transmission attrition than the U.S. over the short term despite starting out with far more vehicles offering said transmission. Heck, even the Tiguan has a manual transmission across the Atlantic, although according to the report that’s the first model to get the axe, perhaps during its upcoming mid-cycle refresh.
And remember, the manual transmission lifespan is closely tied to the lifespan of the internal combustion engine. VW is planning to stop selling new cars with internal combustion engines sometime between 2033 and 2035 in most major markets, with 70 percent of new cars sales being EV by 2030. As internal combustion business winds up, rationalizing the lineup around a single transmission option for each model makes some good business sense.
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