LANZAROTE, Canary Islands — DaimlerChrysler AG has big plans for its new 6-speed manual, which bowed last year on European Mercedes E-Class sedans and has made its way to the Mercedes SLK roadster for '01.

The new manual, developed and produced in-house by DC, also will be featured on the upcoming revamped Mercedes C-Class sedan bowing later this year. It also is being converted to an automatic manual, featured first on the reworked Mercedes Sprinter commercial van now bowing in Europe. The first passenger car application for the automatic/manual version of the 6-speed will be the Mercedes CL series — but that likely will be limited to European market versions of the car. Timing is unclear, but Mercedes officials say it certainly will be on the market within two years. In the Sprinter, the 6-speed is being called “Sprint Shift.” The transmission will be dubbed “Comfort Shift” for passenger car applications.

The automatic version will allow drivers to shift one gear up or down by flicking the gear selector forward or back. There will be no “Park” gear, just reverse, neutral and drive. The gearbox will have to be in neutral in order to start the car.

Mercedes wouldn't say what annual capacity is for the new gearbox, but it is obvious the gearbox will be counted on heavily for future applications. The transmission is built at a DC plant near Unterturkheim, Germany.