Cadillac’s transformation from a purveyor of floaty, barge-like cruisers to a producer of performance-oriented luxury sedans and utes is now complete — a Caddy with a manual transmission is now available.
The 2022 CT4-V Blackwing and CT5-V Blackwing models are aimed at buyers who want comfort and performance and the addition of an optional 6-speed manual transmission for both will add to the excitement level for the new models.
Ironically, it’s a relatively new technology – 3D Printing – that gives Blackwing drivers a chance to enjoy the old-school driving experience of shifting gears, squeezing out every bit of power and speed as the engine roars its approval — or begs for mercy, depending upon when the gear change is made.
“A lot of work went into making the manual possible in both vehicles. It’s something we know V-Series buyers want and it’s something we knew we had to have, so we used innovative processes to make it happen,” said Mirza Grebovic, Cadillac performance variant manager. “There are a few ways to really get that connected feel with the vehicle and the manual transmission is probably the most obvious one.”
The V-Series Blackwing models will be the first GM production vehicles with functional 3D-printed parts, including two HVAC ducts and an electrical harness bracket. In addition, a unique 3D-printed medallion will sit on the manual shifter knob. By leveraging additive manufacturing, the Cadillac team was able to reduce costs and waste when developing the manual transmission.
Although the new pair of Caddys are the first GM products using functional 3D printed parts, other automakers are starting to use them as well, including Ford on the 2020 Shelby GT 500 for brake components. Mini uses it to produce specialty customization parts while Porsche uses the technology to produce spare parts for its classic models.
Nearly as rare is using 3D printed components is the use of the manual transmission, sales of which have been in a steady decline for most of the last two decades. In fact, last year more electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. than vehicles with stick shifts.
Cadillac contracted a Harris Poll study to find out more about manual vehicle transmissions and who uses them — or who can drive stick. The poll found that 66% of U.S. adults knew how to drive a manual. However, of those who do not, about 40% want to learn out to do it.
Those who want to learn, have money and are young: 64% had a household income above $75,000 annually and 62% were between the ages of 18 and 34. Surprisingly, given that sales of vehicles with manual transmissions have been below 4% annually for the past decade, 55% of those surveyed said they have owner or leased a car with a manual.
The 2022 Blackwing models will be available starting in summer 2021. In case you’re curious, a performance Cadillac can be had with a stick, but the auto company’s premier sports car, the new C8 Corvette cannot.