Knibb Gormezano & Partners in cooperation with JD Power-LMC Automotive Forecasting Services, has published a new study entitled 'Transmission Trends in Passenger Cars and Light Commercial Vehicles in Europe', which forecasts that manual transmission fitment in Europe will have fallen below 50% by 2010.

The report forecasts modest growth in automated manuals and conventional automatics over the next five years, accelerating thereafter as 2nd generation automated manuals using double clutch systems to avoid torque interruption become widespread in medium size cars.

By 2010, Knibb Gormezano forecasts that manual transmission penetration will have fallen below 50% while conventional automatics will have reached 25% of production. The demand for manual transmission production in Europe will fall by 4m units while production of conventional automatics will increase by 2.6m. Second generation automated manuals production will grow from zero in 2005 to 2.3m by 2010. Opportunities for CVTs will be constrained by competition from the alternative technologies and are forecast to reach a modest 5% (0.9m units) in 2010.

In spite of the trend to automatic systems, the forecast vehicle mix shows a modest improvement in overall average fuel consumption.

The European Light Vehicle market is unique among the developed markets of the world in its continued preference for manual transmissions. While Japan and the US have automatics up at 90% of light vehicle production, Europe remains stubbornly at 87% manual with automatics having gained only 2 percentage points over the last 5 years. The difference in sales is even more pronounced with manuals representing over 90% of the total European market in 2000.

The study reviews the reasons for this and concludes that, rather than showing a prejudice for manuals, the European consumer has made a logical choice given the price and performance of automatic systems that have been available in the past. Most vehicle manufacturers have been happy to offer automatics as a high profit option rather than as a mainline transmission. However, competitive pressures and the desire to differentiate their products through providing the extra comfort and convenience features of automatic gearshifting, have encouraged the vehicle manufacturers to invest in and develop new technology.

At the same time, the 2008 CO2 target has put a premium on reducing fuel consumption. The vehicle manufacturers are therefore looking for a way to increase automatic transmission penetration without increasing average fuel consumption. The automated manual transmission introduced on sporty cars by Magneti Marelli, and now seen on small economy cars such as the Opel Corsa, offers automatic shifts with a fuel economy equal to or better than a manual. Audi has shown that a well engineered continuously variable transmission (CVT) on a large car can equal manual fuel consumption, although this has yet to be achieved on smaller cars. The new Lepelletier concept 6-speed transmission has achieved a significant step forward for conventional automatics offering reductions in size, weight, cost and fuel consumption over existing 5-speed designs. The first example to reach the market is ZF's HP6-26 on the new BMW 7-Series, but many more will reach the market by 2005.

The study can be obtained directly from Knibb Gormezano & Partners.

e-mail: consult@kgpauto.com

Telephone: +44-1332-292865,

Fax: +44-1332-290334.

To view related research reports, please follow the links below:-

The global transmissions market (download)