Automotive engineering consultancy Ricardo is forecasting a sharp decline in Europe in the current dominance of manual transmissions to a position where they represent just under half the market by the end of the decade. The main drivers are environmental, safety and competitive issues.

By 2007 the company expects that second generation automated manual transmission (AMT) dual-clutch systems will be gaining market share, particularly in the popular family sized C and D class segments. For smaller cars, growth is also predicted in continuously variable transmissions (CVT). For larger cars, marginal growth is predicted in conventional automatic transmissions.

Globally, Ricardo predicts that the choice of transmission systems in the three main automotive regions will be dominated by consideration of installed manufacturing capacity and market acceptance of existing technologies. As such the European market of 2010 will show particular growth in new technologies, seen as a development of manual transmissions, such as first and second generation AMTs. Conversely, the Japanese and North American markets are seen as being more likely to favour the development of new versions of CVT and conventional automatics.

Moves to increase occupant and pedestrian safety are also of influence, acting to restrict the space available to the transmission and so encouraging technologies which are able to deliver more compact designs.

With regard to business trends, Ricardo sees a developing relationship between the car makers and Tier 1 suppliers. While the manufacturing split is predicted to remain stable at current levels in the medium term, the recent marked growth in the proportion of transmission patents registered with the Tier 1 base indicates an increasingly technology-led agenda.