Home » After A Brief Return From A Brief Hiatus, Mini Is Temporarily Discontinuing The Manual Gearbox Again

After A Brief Return From A Brief Hiatus, Mini Is Temporarily Discontinuing The Manual Gearbox Again

Morning Dump Mini Manual

Mini drops a pedal, GMC ritzes up the Yukon, Stellantis is really trying this whole mobility thing. All this and more on today’s edition of The Morning Dump.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

Mini Removes A Pedal Over Supply Chain Shortages

The Mini Cooper S 5-door
Photo credit: Mini

You wouldn’t think that manual gearboxes would really be affected by the fragile state of supply chains, but Mini is pulling out a pedal over the global shortage of everything. Speaking with UK car magazine Autocar, Mini announced a production halt on all models with manual gearboxes, citing the war in Ukraine and the semiconductor shortage as exacerbating factors.

If I’m being honest, while the Aisin eight-speed automatic gearbox in the current Mini Cooper S is quite good, a manual gearbox is a key part of the Mini experience. They’re funky, nimble cars that trade a bit of pace for quirkiness and engagement. After the agonizing manual gearbox hiatus of 2019 over carbon emissions, the row-your-own Mini’s return feels all too brief. Ah well, life goes on I guess. Hopefully the manual is back for good next year.

Real Big

2023 Gmc Yukon Denali Ultimate Exterior
Photo credit: GMC

With the current-generation Cadillac Escalade having moved further upmarket, GMC’s decided that there’s room for a posher Yukon Denali full-size SUV. Enter the 2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate, not to be confused with the Ultimate Package on the 2021 GMC Yukon Denali. Yeah, they probably could’ve done better with the name. Still, the Yukon Denali Ultimate shows that the American ethos of “more is more” is far from dead and buried.

So what on earth makes this thing so Ultimate? On the outside, rather subtle stuff. Well, I say subtle, but 22-inch wheels aren’t exactly shrinking violets. However, a dark chrome grille and dark chrome emblems do remove a touch of visual edge. Let’s be honest, the inside of a luxury vehicle is what really counts. So what’s new on the interior? Honestly, lots and lots of leather and wood. There’s a massive slab of open-pore wood across the dashboard, plenty of aluminum accents and some rather weird leather. Maybe it’s just me, but topographical maps of Mount Denali embossed in the seat backs just sounds kitschy and heavy-handed.

2023 Gmc Yukon Denali Ultimate Head Restraint
Photo credit: GMC

Of course, with more luxury and a higher price comes more tech. The Yukon Denali Ultimate heaps on everything a loaded standard Denali model has from magnetorheological dampers to a panoramic sunroof, while adding a few extra perks. The first perk? The availability of GM’s excellent Super Cruise hands-free Level 2 driver assist suite. I won’t lie, the ability to tow on Super Cruise sounds really nice, so I’m glad this feature is coming to the Yukon. The second perk is an 18-speaker Bose Performance Series stereo, up from the regular Yukon Denali’s 14 Bose speakers. Honestly, I’m curious to hear how the new system sounds. The available 36-speaker AKG system in the Cadillac Escalade is so bright and processed that there’s every chance the Yukon Denali Ultimate’s 18-speaker system is more faithful and more fun to listen to. The third perk is a pair of 16-way massaging front seats, and that I’m afraid is really it. Aside from a darker shade of chrome and a handful of gubbins, the Yukon Denali Ultimate doesn’t quite seem ultimate enough. There used to be a really good case for a loaded Yukon Denali when an Escalade was incredibly ostentatious. Oh how times change.

GM Goes Back To Europe

Cadillac Lyriq
Photo credit: Cadillac

Okay, technically GM never actually left Europe. They still sell the Corvette and the Cadillac XT4 over there, which feel about as far apart as London and Las Vegas, come to think of it. Anyway, after selling Opel and Vauxhall to Stellantis about five years ago, GM reckons they’re in a better position to give the continental market a crack again. The Detroit Free Press reports that during the Milken Global Conference in Los Angeles, GM CEO Mary Barra, signaled intent to re-launch GM’s European arm with a heavy EV product mix.

“About five years ago, we sold our Opel business to what is now Stellantis and we have no seller’s remorse from an internal combustion business,” said Barra. “But we are looking at the growth opportunity that we have now, because we can reenter Europe as an all-EV player. I’m looking forward to that.” Honestly, that sounds like a fair plan. Electric vehicles do particularly well in Europe and the Cadillac Lyriq is in an interesting position. It’s larger than a BMW iX yet priced like a well-equipped X3, a strong value play in the electric luxury crossover segment. Granted, GM’s lucky to be missing the particular supply chain strife brought on by the invasion of Ukraine. “The specific conditions in Europe right now, we’re not facing,” said Barra. Honestly, a European production shortage coupled to a strong value play could be just the thing GM needs to hop into the European EV market. Time will tell, I guess.

We’re Still Doing This Mobility Thing, Huh?

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Photo credit: Stellantis

Apparently it’s not enough to simply be a carmaker these days. The industry’s new goal is to provide mobility solutions, which is just another way of saying that you’ll be able to own nothing. As such, Stellantis is taking over car sharing service Share Now. Who?

Let’s shed a bit of light on Share Now. Most Americans will know it by its former name of Car2Go, a pale blue logo slapped on the side of Smart Fortwos and Mercedes-Benz CLAs. Indeed, Share Now is currently a joint venture between Daimler and BMW, and it’s not been doing quite as well as Daimler and BMW had hoped. Honestly, the whole car sharing model hasn’t worked too well in North America. Share Now pulled out of the US market in 2019 while GM pulled the plug on their Maven car sharing program in 2020. Car subscription services haven’t done well either, with Audi and BMW having discontinued their vehicle subscription services in 2021. So why on earth does Stellantis want Share Now?

Well, Stellantis has its own car sharing service called Free2Move, and a successful car sharing service really requires significant scale. According to Automotive News, Stellantis is planning to grow their global car-sharing service to 15 million active users over the next decade, so snapping up European market leader Share Now is a prudent way to scale up. Whether or not the whole concept of car sharing proves successful is a different story, but it should be interesting to watch Stellantis try something different.

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s issue of The Morning Dump. Honestly, today’s stories beg a good question: how many mobility solutions do people actually want? Electric scooter rentals seem like a pretty good method of whizzing down to the auto parts store on the cheap while wrenching, but I’m not sure if car sharing will ever really catch on in North America. Car ownership is just too cheap and distances too great that simply renting by the hour seems a touch rich. I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you’ve used a car sharing service before.

Lead photo credit: Mini

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24 Responses

  1. Can they make the map of Denali in the seats interactive so you can track the melting of glaciers as you drive around in your giant SUV?

  2. It’s a good time for Cadillac to push the Escalade upmarket, but that doesn’t necessarily leave room for a not-Cadillac ultra lux GM fullsize SUV. What they got rid of is the black-car-service trim, likely just as such fleet operators are looking for something that gets more than single-digit MPG in heavy urban traffic.

    How about a long-wheelbase version of that Lyriq, GM Fleet?

  3. Is it planned for the autopian to have a system to follow the comments? Like have an alert when someone replied?

    Concerning sharing, i’m happy owning my car and mountain bike. Usually buy used, cash, and keep it until i’m bored. Maintenance doesn’t cost me much as i do it myself.

  4. I see what Mini is doing here. Get rid of the manual, and keep making it bigger. Soon, we will see a new Mini. The Maxi model. It will be the size of a Yukon, with room for six, and their luggage.

    After all, it’s a BMW. They never make things smaller. Only bigger. With larger grilles.

  5. I feel there are very few places in the U.S. where car share rentals would be viable. I believe it was ‘car2go’ and another service whose name I can’t remember that were available in Vancouver, B.C. when I was there for 3 months. While I didn’t directly use it, I was with a friend on a couple of occasions when he picked one up. The apps seemed pretty straightforward and the vehicle availability seemed good (for the areas of Vancouver we were in).

    But to match the number of socioeconomic variables that are exhibited in Vancouver, I feel that you would end up with a very short list of U.S. cities where this sort of thing would be sustainable. So, it caaaan work, but not in any sort of widespread adoption use case.

    1. We had them in Austin and I used them quite a bit. Biggest issue I ran into is I would be walking 1/2 a mile to car and then someone would grab it before I got there and then you’re SOL. You couldn’t reserve a car for any period of time. Another minor annoyance was right out in front of my house was the end of the service area. This resulted in stacks of car2go’s in front of my house. Ugly and used up my street parking. Had to call them several times to remove cars that were there for days.

    2. My friend used car2go during the five or so years she lived in Vancouver, and she loved it and didn’t miss having a car — this is a person whose entire life back in the States basically revolved around owning a car, so I’ll take her word for it.

      I’m thinking maybe it would work in, like, Dallas or Houston? Salt Lake? Somewhere in a spaced-out metro area connected by lots of highways, with a transit system reliant mostly on buses.

      Having lived on the East Coast for pretty much my entire life, I’m struggling to think of a city where car sharing would really work here. Boston and New York and Philly especially are such insane cities to drive in, each with their own specific etiquette, that it’s almost criminally negligent just to let someone loose on the road who drives only once or twice a month.

      Actually, you know what? Hartford could work. Hartford and Springfield. Public transportation between those two cities and their metro is so poor as to be practically non-existent, and that stretch of 91 is not an especially hard road to drive on if you stick to the correct lane. Maybe the signage could have a little emblem of two people holding hands in a car — sharing it — added that means, “this lane is the easiest way to Springfield!” or something.

      Then again, I also think Hartford could be solved by moving all the highways in the city to elevated viaducts built smack in the middle of the Connecticut River.

      1. I used Zipcar in DC for years before buying a car last year. Car2go’s run ended in 2020, but I think they were in town for eight years, which is pretty respectable for a new industry.

      2. Zipcar worked phenomenally well when I lived in Philly and Boston. Of the two, owning a car in Philly is closer to practical when you don’t need to do the reverse commute, but it was still really nice to dispense with the headaches of finding street parking, etc. and being able to have access to a car without the hassle of a traditional rental was great for periodic big-box runs or whatever.

    3. I was a Car2Go customer in Calgary. It was great when I had to get from my office to downtown and back, rather than take my own car and trying to find parking or waiting for the bus that ran twice/hour (at -30c). However, all the cars ended up downtown by noon, so quite often I couldn’t get one when I wanted it. The app would sometimes show the nearest car being >3km away, which defeats the whole point.

      On top of that, the cars were Smart Cars, which were absolutely horrible to drive, particularly the first gen ones (apologies to Mercedes Streeter). Just before they shut down, they offered Mercedes A Class cars, which were so much better to drive and worth every penny of the small premium.

      They also were limited to a radius of about 10km from downtown, which meant that my work was covered but not my house. You could drive outside the area but had to return to the area to drop them off.

      They did cause a lot of complaints to the city because they tended to take all the street parking downtown. The city responded by insisting that the smart cars be moved every two hours or get a ticket (or sometimes get towed), so they had a bunch of kids running around shifting the cars, which had to really cut into the profitability.

      Overall, I found them to be useful as an option but they would not have replaced my own car. There was no cost to be a member, so it was worth joining. If they charged a monthly fee, I probably would have passed, since I probably used it twice/month.

  6. The DOT tracks a couple of metrics to determine the state of roads around metro areas: Travel Time and Planning Time. Travel time is the average actual time it takes to get to a destination during the hour of the day it’s measured divided by the time it would take on an empty road. Planning time is the longest time to get to a destination in a calendar year divided by the time it would take on an empty road. Most people do this for their important trips already. If you have to be at the airport by 3, you might leave by 2 because you can typically get there in a half hour, but sometimes there’s a jam that takes it to 45 minutes. The DOT looks at the difference between Travel Time and Planning Time as a metric of health of the network. If they are very similar, it might mean there’s a huge traffic jam every single morning on your way to work, but at least its consistent.

    My whole point with that is that carsharing might introduce a large discrepancy between Travel Time and Planning Time for people. If I rely on that service to get to work, maybe 99 out of a 100 times, I can get to work in 10 minutes. But that one time out of 100, I have to walk a half mile in the wrong direction to find the car, and it’s in an inconvenient spot traffic-wise, and now my commute has gone way up. The other frustrating element would be that the delay is hard to predict. If the weather report calls for snow overnight, that’s a predictable delay. That planning time discrepancy means that you have to plan every single trip you need to use a car for to take longer, even if the trip itself doesn’t end up taking significantly longer than if you had your own car. That friction can be worth a lot to people, and why car sharing can be a hard sell in a market where owning a car (and using it for every trip) is the norm. In environments where a shared car with a higher planning time than a private car is still faster than the alternatives, you’d see higher adoption.

  7. Don’t automatic transmissions have more chips than a manual transmission? So wouldn’t the chip shortage be good for manual transmissions?

    Never forget: Opel started turning a profit almost immediately once PSA/Stellantis bought them!

  8. “Car ownership is just too cheap” Huh? What alternate dimension do you live in? Car prices are outrageous and even for middle income, it’s pretty hard to justify pretty much any new car

    1. Current ripoff prices will go away in two years. I buy used cars never more than $10,000 and drive them for 5 years with minimal maintenance.

      1. Congratulations on making the absolute stupidest comment on Autopian today.
        Your prize is another delivery of whatever reality-altering drugs you’re on that make 2-2=22.

      2. I disagree the auto manufacturers have found a way to maximize profit for zero investment. I expect it will take awhile or another new manufacturer to going after the lower profitability market before they go to more production.

    2. Really. Average new car prices have skyrocketed since 2008.

      In 2008, the average price of a new car was $23,000. That’s $30,713 in 2022 dollars.
      In 2022, the average price of a new car is $47,000. That’s a more than $17,000 real increase.

      In 2011, a brand new Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland with every option stickered at about $43,000.
      A comparable 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland L stickers at $62,275 before dealer bullshit.

      “So affordable”? Pull the other one, it’s got bells on it. There’s a reason the average age of cars on the road has also skyrocketed. Nobody can fucking afford it, doubly so when most people are being forced to eat a real pay cut of over 7% this year alone, before the fact that wages haven’t even remotely kept up since the 1980’s.

      1. Yeah but you are not taking inflation into consideration. Nothing political meant so let’s not go down that road but every year all monetary units buy less. If a Econ Guru is available what is the true financial difference?

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