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Speak up about the 3rd pedal option!

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Old 01-16-2007, 04:38 PM   #1
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Default Speak up about the 3rd pedal option!

"By Bill Visnic
WardsAuto.com, Jan 10, 2007 3:17 PM

DETROIT - Audi AG has an ambitious $15-billion investment slated for the next five years, with 70% earmarked for new product.

One item the auto maker may be cutting from its investment plan, however, is manual transmissions for the U.S.

"It's conceivable in the U.S. we may dispense with manuals," Johan de Nysschen, executive vice president of Audi of America Inc., says.

Manual-transmission installation rates in the U.S. continue to fall. And despite ongoing efforts to reinforce the brand's sporty characteristics, Audi cannot ignore the reality that most U.S. customers - as opposed to Europeans - simply do not want to deal with a clutch pedal, de Nysschen says.

"For us, the S-Tronic represents the best of both worlds," he says, referring to Audi's version of parent Volkswagen Group's successful automated manual transmission, named Direct Shift Gearbox.

The S-Tronic is a dual-clutch manual transmission fitted with an electrohydraulic module that automatically actuates the clutch. The high-tech transmission can shift gears on its own, just like an automatic transmission, or allows the driver to shift gears sequentially, without a clutch pedal.


Audi RS4 may continue to get manual transmission.
De Nysschen stresses that Audi's high-performance S and RS variants of its mainstream models would continue with manual transmissions, because those buyers typically seek the full control of a manual transmission and clutch pedal. Audi currently has S or RS variants of almost all its standard model lines except the Q7 cross/utility vehicle.

"I would not imagine an automatic-transmission RS4 (for example)," de Nysschen says, adding, "The mainstream cars (in the U.S.) may well go automatic only."

He says Audi expects to further expand use of the dual-clutch S-Tronic gearbox to replace both manual and conventional torque-converter automatic transmissions.

Audi interim CEO and CFO Rupert Stadler says the auto maker plans to increase its product range from 22 models today to 40 models during the next five years of its ambitious investment plan. Much of it is focused on the U.S. market, where Audi had a record sales year in 2006, retailing 90,116 vehicles, an increase of 8.5%.

While the U.S. is Audi's leading export market, trailing only Germany in sales, China rapidly is approaching U.S. volumes and soon may surpass the U.S. to become the auto maker's largest export market, Ralph Weyler, board member for sales and marketing, says.

Despite a growth plan that earmarks a leap from 2006's 905,100 worldwide sales to 1.4 million by 2015, Stadler says there are no plans to add manufacturing capacity until sales surpass 1 million units.

Then, he says, Audi likely first will look for capacity within the VW Group. Despite frequent auto industry discussion about the effects of currency exchange rates, all three Audi executives say the company currently is not considering the U.S. for a new assembly plant.

A factory in the U.S. "would not solve problems with the exchange rate," Stadler says. "The time is not right."

From Wards Auto

<a href="http://www.audiusa.com/audi/us/en2/forms/contact_aoa.htx">"contact Audi USA via email"</a><ul><li><a href="http://wardsauto.com/ar/audi_clutch_goodbye/">source info thanks to the Canadia forum</a></li></ul>
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Old 01-16-2007, 05:43 PM   #2
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Default Funny you should bring that up now...

...as I am just printing a letter to AoA about the lack of response from the local dealer about my open customer complaint. Called AoA twice, now writing letters.

Perhaps it's just the timing, but I can't imagine that Audi gives even half a damn about what it's customers think. To Audi, a bird in the hand is worthless; they focus all efforts on building cars for markets they are trying to capture rather than keep the customers they already have. They come out with conflicting philosphies on a monthy basis. This company has lost its way.

&lt;rant/off flamesuit/on&gt;
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Old 01-16-2007, 05:44 PM   #3
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Default Where to begin?

While I understand the pure marketing/sales aspect of the issue, it is disappointing to see the trend. I bought my 2.7 purely for the manual transmission. It was cool to have a mid-sized sport sedan with a 6 speed. I know it may be more a thing of the past.

I've driven the A3 &amp; TT's with DSG and I'd have to say, I'd take one in a heartbeat. That transmission is amazing and has more capability than me on smooth shifting on the track, street or where-ever.

But back to the discussion of the other day...Where is the soul in an automatic? We are removing more and more personality out of many things in our culture.

Take restaurants as an example. There are so many cookie-cutter restaurants springing up all over the US. The are all working feverishly to capture the increasing "eat-out" culture of the US with a medium-priced product. My wife and I were in a new establishment of the mid to upper end in our area recently...the food was very good, the environment was nice, lighting right, excellent service...however the atmosphere felt "manufactured". It just didn't feel right. All of the ingredients where there, but it felt false, without true meaning. I know, I know...it's only food. But, take that to the automobile industry.

They are manufacturing products to the widest audience they can find. While Audi has always enjoyed a niche market they continue to expand...which the formula is troubling.

What and where is the soul of the brand?

Back to the issue at hand. Manual's are about controlling that experience and not relinquishing control to "the machine" per se. I know he points out that they will continue to offer a manual transmission in the R or RS variety...oh, wait...is there a manual RS6 available in the US? I know the RS4 has that option, but I don't know of any S6 or RS6 US model that does (I may not have all the facts tho).

Anyway, I hate to let go of the manual and what it means to me. I like them, I'd hate to see them go. But I may be a lone voice in the wind.
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Old 01-16-2007, 05:57 PM   #4
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Default A number of friends have B6 S4s. To them it's just "the Audi" not "THE S4!"

I've lamented many times before that in the relentless persuit of "sophistication" character must be honed away.

I like, respect, and enjoy my (stick) A3. I look forward to driving the Alfa much more - warts and all. It feels like a mechanical device and requires not just my input, but also my finesse. I am part of the whole. Newer cars feel like incredibly developed video game inputs. And maybe to kids brought up playing racing games, that is the feeling they look for?
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Old 01-16-2007, 06:02 PM   #5
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wrong forum
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Old 01-16-2007, 06:32 PM   #6
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Default Yes...that's part of it...video games, disconnect from reality...

I recently had a first time student at the track. In the interview I learned that he had a significantly modified car (TT) but no track experience. In typical form I told him we would be taking it easy for the first few sessions to get "the lay of the land" (and for me to figure out what he knew).

He responded "don't worry, I've driven this track thousands of times in Grand Tourismo"

My response: "That's nice, but friend, when you make mistakes here...there ARE consequences, we'll take it easy"

You are right on one point, I'd rather drive my old MG Midget than some of these "video game cars".

"Thanks for playing, have a nice day" ;-)
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Old 01-16-2007, 06:38 PM   #7
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Default That's hilarious.

Hats off to anyone who instructs. You guys have no fear - lol
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Old 01-16-2007, 06:44 PM   #8
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IMHO, this is VAG propaganda to justify going all-automatic for the whole range...
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Old 01-16-2007, 07:10 PM   #9
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That would be terrible. I guess my hopes of them bringing a TDI manual is even slimmer
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Old 01-16-2007, 07:24 PM   #10
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Default Re: Speak up about the 3rd pedal option!

i think they're already starting. it was pretty difficult to find a manual 07 A4 Avant just now to replace my 03 Avant coming off lease.
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