Friday, August 15, 2014

The shift from levers to buttons

For some time now, having a vehicle with an automatic transmission meant having a shift lever either on the console or steering column that was used to change gears.  With the arrival of a variety of new technology in vehicles has also come the arrival of electronic transmission controls.  Gone are the days of gear shift familiarity in all cars, as consumers are now learning how to use toggles, knobs and push buttons.  Among some of the automakers who have started to employ electronic transmission controls are Acura, Chrysler, Jaguar, Lincoln and Mercedes Benz.

These new controls are giving cars a more high-tech feel, though this is not the first time that auto makers have integrated push-button shifting.  Chrysler in particular has had models in the past with push-button controls and even Ford had shift buttons in itsEdsel sedan.  Automakers are moving to electronic shifting, which is controlled by computers and thus enables the change from traditional shift levers (which require a lever control with mechanical links to the transmission) to buttons and toggles.

This change is aesthetic and practical for automakers, though for drivers it means learning a new system and adjusting to a new normal when it comes to their car’s transmission.