I know I'll get a few laughs for this but bare with me...
Alot of the Tractor manufacturers today have transmissions in their tractors that are very user friendly and I believe could be advantageous for the auto industry. I'm not sure if many people know about these transmissions, but they're pretty amazing (yes, I'm from a farm
Not sure what other tractor manufacturers call their's, but John Deere have what they call Powershift (I think its been around for a few years now). The trans. has four (or more) banks (gears) like a conventional transmission, but it also has 4 speeds to each bank. So, for example, you can be in 4th/5th gear and in the 4th speed, and instead of changing down a gear (to slow you down) using the clutch you just pull the lever back one or two speeds without using the clutch.
John Deere have some Powershift Transmissions with 24 Speeds (although its called Powr-Sync)
Some Info on the JD Transmissions
I know that the size of these transmissions would be the most limiting factor for a automotive application, but with time I'm sure this could work. And yes, the gearing for automotive applications would have to be changed ALOT because of the (relatively) low speed work of agricultural machinery.
(If they haven't already) why don't automotive transmission manufacturers consider developing these for the automotive industry??
Not sure about this, but:
#ease of use
#ability to handle torque (thats a definate!)
...but then theres cost (ouch!)