We’ll Never Abandon the Three-pedal Lifestyle: Aston Martin CEO

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Who loves stick shifts? Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer loves stick shifts!

In an industry that’s rapidly heading towards autonomous vehicles, “mobility solutions” and other high-tech dreams of a 21st century society, Old World charm is becoming increasingly hard to find. Leave it to a British automaker to take a stand for old technology.

During a speech at the Canadian International Auto Show this morning, Palmer declared his devotion to the antiquated row-your-own transmission, stating that Aston Martin will always keep the three-pedal lifestyle alive.

In his address, Palmer said that Aston Martin will always have at least one model available with a manual transmission. Always — as in forever and ever. For 2017, Aston returned the stick as an option on the V12 Vantage S.

Many will hope that Palmer, as well as other automakers, succeed in keeping the dream alive, though the group is perpetually dwindling in numbers.

An Edmunds study published late last year showed that less than 3 percent of the vehicles sold in the U.S. were stick-shift models. Europeans are known to enjoy manually changing their own gears, but those numbers are slipping. It’s also more due to a quirk of history. In the 1940s, there were far more pressing issues facing Europe than worrying about how to give a person’s left foot a rest while driving.

Now, automatic transmissions with eight, nine, or ten speeds battle it out with smooth, never-shifting continuously variable units and sporty, lightning-quick dual-clutch gearboxes.

Ferrari has already abandoned its manual transmissions. So has Lamborghini. Porsche seems to be on the road to doing so, though it maintains — like other automakers — that it will produce manuals only if there’s sufficient demand.

We don’t know if Palmer’s decree will be chiseled in stone and placed at the gates to Aston Martin’s Gaydon headquarters in Warwickshire, England, but perhaps it should. Palmer might feel this way, but the next CEO to come along could feel differently. Actually, so could Aston buyers.

Still, it’s nice to see a CEO from a country best known for burled walnut, tweed and breakfast fishes keeping the torch of tradition aflame.

[Image: Aston Martin]