Currently reading: Autocar confidential: Mini design freedom, Byton's Chinese focus & the end for manual
Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up this week's gossip from across the automotive industry

This week's snippets include news on Byton, Mini design freedom and the end for the manual gearbox.

MINI DESIGN FREEDOM: Mini design chief Oliver Heilmer feels more freedom designing for the brand than he did in his previous role at BMW. He said: “BMW was a much more serious brand. I did the 5 Series and there was so much pressure. [Mini] feels like a release to me. I’m aware of the icons, but there is a lot we can change.” Heilmer said that although the design of the Mini hatch was relatively established, he could push the design boundaries with cars such as the Mini Countryman SUV.

Mini electric concept makes Goodwood Festival of Speed appearance

BYTON'S FOCUS ON CHINA: Byton boss Carsten Breitfeld said that the firm is focusing on China with its M-Byte SUV initially because the country is leading the way in investment in infrastructure for electric cars. “There’s a strong political will to make this happen,” said Breitfeld. “We don’t have to do it on our own. The government is doing it.” He added: “Public charging stations are in a good way. Every new building with parking spaces has this ability, or sometimes obligation, to install charging points.”

2019 Byton electric SUV edges closer to production

THE END FOR MANUAL: The increases in power and torque produced by high-performance car engines are likely to spell the end of the manual gearbox in such machines, rather than a lack of consumer demand, according to the boss of the Volkswagen R division. “If powertrain performance gets to a point that developing a manual [capable of handling the torque] costs too much, manufacturers won’t do it,” Jost Capito said, hinting that the Golf R’s successor could be offered exclusively in DSG form. The current model recently dropped its manual version due to a lack of demand.

Volkswagen Golf R power drops to 296bhp amid WLTP changes

Read more 

2019 Byton electric SUV edges closer to production

Mini electric concept makes Goodwood Festival of Speed appearance

The death of the manual gearbox 

Join the debate

Add a comment…
russ13b 21 August 2018


doesn't it come down to clutch control/abuse, and resultant warranty jobs from broken manuals that've been launched too many times? basically, everything high-performance is going the way of the esprit, so they don't want to let you break everything and claim under warranty. a 'vette gearbox might not fit a golf (and similar), the packaging is all wrong! it wouldn't be a problem if they would stop trying to make everything be the fastest. i'm convinced the manufacturers are more bothered about "top trumps" than consumers

artill 21 August 2018

The Corvette happily puts

The Corvette happily puts upto 755 bhp through a manual box, and the manual seems to sell quite well. So i am not sure why more powerful cars are going to be a problem. And Manuals are nearly always cheaper than the automatics too. If i had to i would pay more for a manual, I would. On the second hand market people already pay a healthy premium for manual versions of many cars. 

The only reason why a manufacturer wouldnt develope a manual is their hope to push you into a higher priced automatic, while saving their developement budget


catnip 21 August 2018

Typical customers for the

Typical customers for the Golf R round my way, are young gentlemen with plenty of cash, but no obvious  employment. As their driving seems to be a case of putting your foot down and driving as fast as you can wherever you are, barely slowing down for queuing traffic, red lights, pedestrian crossings, etc, etc, the auto gearbox seems to suit them down to the ground. I can see then that the demand for manual versions may be low, but, as with the demise of 3-door hatchbacks, I'm sure its a case of the manufacturers making it easier for themselves more than anything else.