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Mercedes to slash engines ‘dramatically’

Mercedes will phase out manual transmissions offered in its passenger cars between now and 2030, a spokesman said. The brand only offers manual transmissions in its compact range, including the A-Class, as well as the C-Class midsize model family. The replacement for the C-Class, due next year, is not expected to offer a manual transmission.

Daimler’s production of manual transmissions globally has fallen to just under 300,000 last year from a half million in 2016, according to figures from analyst firm LMC Automotive. Automatic transmission production rose to 1.56 million from 1.41 million over the same time frame, while Daimler’s production of dual-clutch transmissions rose to 680,000 from 457,000, LMC said.

This year manual transmissions will account for just 5.7 percent of Daimler’s gearbox production, LMC predicts.

“As electrification grows, manual gearboxes become less viable and dual-clutch transmissions have taken a chunk out of manuals as well,” Al Bedwell, LMC’s head of powertrain, said.

Mercedes has played a big role in the history of combustion engines, including the launch of the first diesel in a passenger car in 1936. However, electrification and the cost of upgrading combustion engines to comply with tougher emissions regulations have forced all automakers operating in Europe to reduce combustion engine programs.

Like Volkswagen Group, Daimler also has been penalized for cheating on emissions tests. In September 2019, German prosecutors fined Daimler 870 million euros ($1.01 billion) for “negligent violation” following a probe into the sale of rigged diesels.

Last month Daimler agreed to pay $2.2 billion to resolve a U.S. government diesel-emissions cheating investigation.

Daimler needed to cut its fixed costs to reduce its break-even point,. Chief Financial Officer Harald Wilhelm told viewers during the presentation to investors. He described the planned 20 percent cut in costs as a “a remarkable number in a period of transformation and investment into new technology,” but added that he believes Daimler can achieve its goal.

The reduction in complexity would be supported by a “fundamental transformation” in powertrain, Wilhelm said, adding that Daimler would cut its combustion investment “brutally” compared with the current level.

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