Mercedes-Benz - The Star says goodbye to the manual gearbox

Starting in 2023, the Mercedes-Benz will say goodbye to manual gearbox completely. The news, anticipated last Wednesday by the Stuttgarter Zeitung and resumed in sequence by the German agency Dpa and the industrial information magazine Automobilwoche, is one of those that make people discuss. But on the other hand, it must also be read in the right perspective: that of a long process that has led to this point. And that will certainly not affect the Stuttgart manufacturer alone.

Away also from the compact. Already today, in the Stella range, the manual gearbox is only available on three models: Class A, Class B and CLA, all belonging to the compact family. On the rest of the offer, the automatic reigns supreme. And soon it will also be the same in the category that constitutes the entry step to the price lists: this was confirmed by a spokesperson for the House to the same Dpa, specifying that the disappearance of the manuals will take place on the occasion of the generational change of the models in question.

In parallel with electrification. The transition, as underlined by the spokesperson, must be read in parallel with the progressive electrification of powertrains: both the diffusion of plug-in hybrids, which are normally combined with automatic transmissions, and that of electric ones, which use fixed-ratio gearboxes to transmit the motion to the drive wheels is by its very nature pushing towards a rapid decline in mechanical gearboxes.

An announcement from two years ago. The news that emerged in recent days, however, is not an absolute surprise. On the contrary: already in 2020, the research and development director of the Stuttgart group, Markus Schäfer, had made it clear that the manual gearbox would disappear from the radar in a short time. Reason? Very simple: reduce fixed costs by simplifying the vast mechanical offer in the range.

BMW is also heading in the same direction. This phenomenon, of course, still does not affect generalist brands in a comparable way, but among the premium houses it is already in full swing. The latest example comes from BMW’s rivals, which on the occasion of the restyling of the 3 Series, they took the manual option out of the way. Offering for the first time in history the midsize sedan with only the option of the eight-speed automatic. And thus aligning it with its direct competitor: the C-Class.

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