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Old 26th September 2012, 21:57   #1
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Question Why don't manufacturers bring manual transmission in their premium models?

Hello fellas, been here after a long time of 2 months. The previous 2 months have experienced a host of launches in premium segment such as B-Class and VW Touareg etc. etc. Other cars above 18-20 lakhs also have automatic trannies as standard. For.eg- Camry, Passat (not sure of Passat but heard someone saying it!)

Their specs reveal that the transmissions are Automatic ones. It is a common practice that premium car manufacturers bring automatic transmissions such as Tiptronic, steptronic, ZF and what not. Realisin' this, I logged on to TBHP as this aroused my curiousity. Hence, started this thread.

So, My one, simple question to all BHPians is that Why don't Premium manufacturers bring manual transmission in their cars? It is a joy to drive a car with manual trannies, as most enthusiasts know.

Is it some regulations, homologation requirements or anything else?

Waiting for inputs to pour in!

P.S. Mods, Please merge the thread if a similar one exists. Thank you!

Keep revvin'
S@ndy

Last edited by S@ndy : 26th September 2012 at 22:04.
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Old 26th September 2012, 22:42   #2
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Default Re: Why don't manufacturers bring manual transmission in their premium models?

Quote:
Originally Posted by S@ndy View Post
....Is it some regulations, homologation requirements or anything else?

Waiting for inputs to pour in!...
None of these, cost is the reason as far as I know. These premium cars are mainly built for Europe / Americas etc where majority of sales happen for auto transmission. And it's sold only in few countries where manual transmissions are so popular, that too via CKDs or CBUs which means they can simply ship the cars or parts, assemble these without having the head ache of manufacturing locally. It's probably NOT financially feasible to develop a manual tyranny for those few hundred units just to cater to one or two markets as well.
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Old 26th September 2012, 22:59   #3
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Default Re: Why don't manufacturers bring manual transmission in their premium models?

Well the big three being European and I know for a fact that all their cars come with manual trannies in the UK. Europeans especially Britisher's love their manuals.

I think and this is just me, that the reason manual transmissions in this segment are not offered in India is that it will reduce the premiumness of the vehicle thus forcing them to charge less, An entry level 3 series with a Manual Box in the UK is around 20-22 lakhs.

Another reason I feel is that these guys feel that having an Auto box in place in these cars gives them a lot of control on the behavior of the vehicle which they might tweak to their liking to maybe reduce chances of failure and thus saving image and costs of warranty.

And the final reason I think is purely demand, why fix something which ain't broken, if there is no demand for an Auto box then why have one. Maybe people who buy these cars feel that an Auto box is a luxury and thus are appeased on finding one.

The above are just my views.

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Old 26th September 2012, 23:03   #4
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Default Re: Why don't manufacturers bring manual transmission in their premium models?

My take is that these engines need a different set of transmission which means a 8-Speed or 7-Speed. The thought of a 6 speed gives me nightmares let alone 7 or 8 speed. And Hyundai if i remember right is secretly building a 10 Speed transmission.

And most importantly as Swiftnfurious said, cost of setting up an assembly unit that produces fewer % of Manual compared to the global Automatic need is high.
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Old 26th September 2012, 23:23   #5
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Default Re: Why don't manufacturers bring manual transmission in their premium models?

Demand , practicality for Indian driving conditions etc are all true but other interesting reason also may be;

That the these biggies i.e. the MBA's (Merc , BMW , Audi ) to bring in their stick shift is the warranty;

They feel the Indian customers (general public/chauffeurs) are not mature enough to drive their cars or how much & when to use clutch & we may bust the clutch in their warranty period & they will have to give a free replacement. So to avoid all this mess they straight offer the A/T , so that there is nothing to worry about.

Skoda also another example where a lot of clutch failures were noticed in thier M/T , not because the product was bad , just because people kept it pressed in traffic , or rested their feet on the clutch etc

PS - Although i know a friend who owns a 2010 Merc 200 K which is a M/T

^ Will try and get pics of the same.

Last edited by karan561 : 26th September 2012 at 23:26.
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Old 26th September 2012, 23:31   #6
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Default Re: Why don't manufacturers bring manual transmission in their premium models?

Because there are not enough driving enthusiasts in India to justify the risk of stocking up on inventory that won't shift quickly. Its understandable that they wouldn't do manual production here, but they don't risk bringing in a handful of manuals even in the case of CBUs. Not even on order.

They feel validated in auto-only decision. there are no manual transmissions in cars like the Mini Cooper S or the E90 BMW 330i or the S4, but Indian enthusiasts have expressed no outrage, neither on forums like this one, nor in Indian car magazines, nor in letters to the editor, nor in clear statements to dealers.

Even on this forum of supposed enthusiasts, when I say we don't have enough enthusiasts who will demand manuals, people start getting defensive and offering excuses for t their preference for automatics.

I don't buy any of these arguments because in my mind, for an enthusiast driver fun-to-drive and driver involvement would matter more than any argument for buying an automatic. We don't have very many true enthusiasts.

Thats the reality of the Indian market and the manufacturers know it.

Last edited by Harbir : 26th September 2012 at 23:35.
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Old 26th September 2012, 23:46   #7
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Default Re: Why don't manufacturers bring manual transmission in their premium models?

Even Ferrari, Lamborghinis and similar offer automatic only to best their 0-100 and keep development costs low.
Or maybe with Manuals they run the risk of having too many burnt clutches impacting their reputation.
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Old 26th September 2012, 23:50   #8
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I think these premium brands doesn't want to take a risk. India is popular for high traffic and buyers these days just want peace of mind. Anyone who buys a premium car wants their car to be easy to drive and driving in traffic should be as easy as possible so these manufacturers thinks fitting cars with auto box is a wiser decision. Secondly, manual transmission brings down the cost too which may lessen the overall brand value. Other reasons could be India being a very huge market Mercs and all doesn't want to take risk as demands for them are already less and if they introduce further variants the demand would be same but supply has to increase no be it only of 5% but it will increase and I agree with the above comments there are countries which prefer Auto trans more than Manual so it could be a reason that just for a few market that too with not much demand it doesn't make sense to introduce manual trans. One thing could be will it make sense to have a 7-8 speed manual transmission? I mean imagine how the manual transmission would look with 7 or 8 speed manual gears!
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Old 27th September 2012, 10:34   #9
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Default Re: Why don't manufacturers bring manual transmission in their premium models?

I think I read somewhere that in the premium segment the bulk of the demand is for Auto transmissions.

Mainly because most are chauffeur driven.

The owners dont like the way chauffeurs change gears. Most drivers are used to give the gearshift quite a push and drive with the clutch too which causes heartburn for the owners.

Were not the first Indian MBs launched with manuals?
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Old 27th September 2012, 14:02   #10
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Default Re: Why don't manufacturers bring manual transmission in their premium models?

The Indian premium car market is home to a very much mixed variety of people. Firstly, enthusiasts are a minority, secondly, an enthusiast who knows his cars well and is capable to put down premium car money is even more rare.

Leaving us with quite a majority of non-enthusiast rich people for whom luxury/comfort > driving dynamics/involvement & feel. This explains why manuals are ditched in favor of automatics, HPS replaced by EPS, computers & electronic wizadry to make the car more safer, comfortable than to make them fast (save for purpose built supercars/sports cars)

There is a very common notion amongst people (non-enthusiasts) in India, that if they are putting down anything in excess of 30L for a car, it must be an automatic. An auto-tranny somehow relates to the premiumness of the car in India.

Moreover, enthusiasts who do seek driving dynamics, involvment & feel are now subjected to a variety of options under automatics like DSG's, ZF, etc. That are although low on the involvement bit with the clutch pedal and the stick but in terms of performance even better, the shifts on a dual-clutch Auto are lightning quick. It does the job of shifting cogs faster and the power is managed more efficiently with optimum performance.
These 'boxes have provided a blend of everyday usability and comfort along with dynamic abilities which appeals to most of the enthusiasts in the form of the paddle shifts & tiptronic shifts to up the involvement level as well.

This makes the market who would put down 30L+ on a car with an extra pedal + stick even more smaller. The automobile industry in India knows this, hence they really don't bother with the manuals.
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Old 27th September 2012, 15:47   #11
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Default Re: Why don't manufacturers bring manual transmission in their premium models?

I think we can forget about MT luxury cars in India.
These days, more and more luxury cars are coming with smaller displacement engines, which means one or two turbochargers for that extra power.

Would you drive a car with a heavy turbolag in our bumper to bumper to traffic?

It would work to some extent in the west because the bumper to bumper traffic is not as bad as it is here.
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Old 27th September 2012, 17:11   #12
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Default Re: Why don't manufacturers bring manual transmission in their premium models?

Yesterday, I went to see the B-Class in the Mercedes showroom. The dealer told the usuals such as variants, price, features etc. He kept on exaggerating that this is the cheapest Merc in country and would be a volume seller in Merc history (He felt very confident while saying this).

On asking him transmissions, he told that 7-Speed DCT Automatic was on offer. On asking him if there was any possibility of Manual being launched in India, he said," Sir jii! Automatic is much better than Manual and was preferred by masses in the country and what is the use of Manual, you have to use the stick all the time and that too with 5 or 6 gears only!" I felt he was correct to some extent but wish these premium brands introduce Manual transmissions on their models, not as standard, but just as an option.

As everyone said, Manual cars are cheaper than automatic ones.

-Basically, What is the price difference b/w a manual and automatic one?
-Is the difference really high so as it hurts brand image?
-Is it more complex than an Automatic transmission?
-Does it have some extra maintainance than Automatic one?

P.S. I'm still a novice so please pardon if I asked some stupid question. There are so many such doubts in my mind. I'd be thankful if you help in clearing these doubts. Thank you!

Keep revvin'
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Old 27th September 2012, 17:39   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rohanjf
Would you drive a car with a heavy turbolag in our bumper to bumper to traffic?

It would work to some extent in the west because the bumper to bumper traffic is not as bad as it is here.
I don't think turbo lag has anything to do with the lack of MT options in the luxury segment. I know folks who drive latest MT BMW, Alfa Romeo etc., and they refuse to go back to anything automatic

Quote:
Originally Posted by S@ndy
-Basically, What is the price difference b/w a manual and automatic one?
-Is the difference really high so as it hurts brand image?
-Is it more complex than an Automatic transmission?
-Does it have some extra maintainance than Automatic one?
IMO, the answer is No for all the above. The price difference is not so huge, no way it will hurt the brand image, it's not complex (compared to some of the AT boxes), and not high on maintenance. I think the trouble with multiple options is to have trained folks to service both, and also to stock spares as well. Maybe they think it as a big hassle, considering the fact that the MT buyers/enthusiasts will be a minuscule percentage of the overall sales.
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Old 27th September 2012, 19:46   #14
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Default Re: Why don't manufacturers bring manual transmission in their premium models?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rohanjf View Post

Would you drive a car with a heavy turbolag in our bumper to bumper to traffic?
Firstly, cars with "heavy" turbolag are a thing of a past. Now turbolag is light or just noticeable.

Secondly, engines with significant turbolag mate poorly with automatics. The automatic will shift based on parameters such as vehicle speed, throttle position, engine speed, but will not be able to take into account the impeller speed of the turbocharger, which is the source of the lag. Engines with heavy lag mated with automatic transmissions suffer because the transmissions cannot keep the turbocharger spinning as a driver with a manual transmission would. So you get huge lag and a very uneven behaviour as the engine goes on and off boost when pushed, and lives mostly off boost when driven modestly.
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Old 27th September 2012, 20:51   #15
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Default Re: Why don't manufacturers bring manual transmission in their premium models?

Manufacturers are in the business to sell; if lots of customers demand something, they WILL offer it.

That, in a nutshell, explains why all premium cars in India are AT only. There is simply no demand for MT. Mercedes used to sell the C-Class with a 6-speed manual. So few people bought it (yours truly was part of this minority ) that it wasn't worth keeping in the showrooms at all. The variant was soon discontinued.

Leave aside the "premium cars", even the Laura AT outsells the MT by a huge margin. Customers spending over 10 lakhs love ATs and, considering Indian traffic conditions, you can't blame them, can you?
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