The manual-transmission Porsche 911 has just eight years left to live. At least that’s the personal prediction of Michael Schätzle, project manager of the new 911. At a media event for the 911 cabriolet, Schätzle gave the three-pedal, rear-engined Porsche until 2020, or “one or two generations,” before going the way of Studebaker.
Schätzle staked his claim on the grounds that both customers and management prefer the quicker, more efficient dual-clutch automatic transmission. Globally, 78 percent of the seventh-generation 911 have sold with the PDK dual-clutch automatic, he said. The United States bucks that trend, however, with roughly half of 911 buyers choosing the three-pedal transmission.
Ironically, Porsche showed rare innovation and commitment to the manual transmission when it introduced a seven-speed manual in the 2012 911. The manual and dual-clutch transmissions share a large percentage of parts, but Porsche is likely readying a new PDK gearbox that undoes much of the commonality. Schätzle indicated that Porsche is interested in a nine-speed dual-clutch to succeed the current seven-speed gearbox and that adding those two cogs would require a thorough redesign to add a fourth shaft to the current transmission. Lest you get any crazy ideas, a nine-speed manual is out of the question.
While he doesn’t see a future for the stick-shift 911, Schätzle also doesn’t forecast total extinction for the manual transmission anytime soon. He believes budget-minded European customers will keep the demand for cheap, stick-shift economy cars high. Perhaps that’s little consolation for enthusiasts in America, where manuals are most popular in pricier sports cars, but at least we have this: despite his role in 911 development, Schätzle is adamant that his prediction isn’t the official word. “This is a personal opinion,” he said. “No decision has been made.”