Auto Emergency Braking Could Be Final Nail in Coffin for Manual Transmissions
NHTSA, Automakers Come to Agreement for 2022 Implementation of Technology
Over the last half-century, there have been numerous technological developments in the automotive industry that we today take for granted but in some way or another were influenced by government regulation. Whether it’s catalytic converters, fuel injection, airbags, or antilock brakes, many of these technologies came into being to meet increasingly stringent government regulations. The sometimes antagonistic relationship between the industry and regulators appears to have made a more cordial turn, with automakers representing 99 percent of U.S. sales pledging to make automatic emergency braking (AEB) standard on virtually all vehicles under 8,501 pound gross vehicle weight (GVW) by 2022. Trucks with a GVW between 8,501 and 10,000 pounds will have the technology by 2025.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is claiming this voluntary pledge will bring the technology to the market faster than would have been possible through the conventional regulatory process. NHTSA is claiming the implementation of AEB on passenger cars could potentially prevent 28,000 crashes and 12,000 injuries. One possible complication for the implementation of AEB across the line is vehicles equipped with manual transmissions. Sudden braking for a vehicle in gear would stall the engine and require a restart.
Except for some high-performance and entry-level models, manual transmissions are becoming exceedingly rare in the U.S. market. The widespread implementation of emergency braking could effectively regulate the manual transmission out of existence. The new Ford Focus RS features a rapid restart feature on its manual transmission, which could become a requirement of three-pedal manuals in the near future to comply with the mandate.