In speaking about manual transmissions in present-model domestic vehicles, we notice a marked decline in manual transmissions. Aisin World Corp., the mother company of the Aisin group of OEM suppliers, is one of the world’s largest producers of automatic and manual transmissions. Looking around we can see the decline in models available for purchase with a manual transmission among Chrysler, Ford and GM. There are no options on late-model Ford or GM full-size pickups and SUVs for a manual transmission. ZF, which had a long relationship with Ford and still provides us with work to repair past-model five- and six-speed units, is no longer producing units for the blue oval. Muscle cars from Dodge, GM and Ford are optioned with five- and six-speed manual transmissions from Tremec. Besides Tremec, Aisin is now the only player with a skin in the game.
In the past, manufacturers of low-volume vehicles such as Rolls Royce and Jaguar used GM transmissions and A/C systems rather than design and develop their own. The trend has enlarged and continued so that the automakers looking to cut costs and increase efficiency are relying more on their tier-one suppliers to design and develop complete components such as transmissions and transfer cases. This has created a growth in units of a common design now showing up in many different vehicle platforms, from U.S.-built to imported brands.