According to Edmunds, 6.5 percent of new vehicles sold had a manual transmission, more than double that of 5 years ago. What’s next? The return of diesels? Wagons?
The USA Today article (which cites Edmunds data) notes that fuel economy is no longer a driving factor in the adoption of manuals. Instead, the cheaper prices, fun factor and ease of operation (relative to older manual transmissions, thanks to more user-friendly clutches and hill-hold systems) are spurring consumers to go for manual gearboxes. Of course, we still haven’t reached the 2002 industry high of 8.5 percent.
Ford notes that 10 percent of Focus sales are manual transmission cars, while Dodge expects 20 percent of their Dart compact sedans to come with three pedals rather than two. Ford claims that 25 percent of Focus buyers have an income over $100,000 – and that they are more likely to have traveled overseas, rented a stick shift car, and liked it enough to buy one for themselves.
Manual transmissions, aside from being fun, have also been touted as a way to keep kids from texting behind the wheel – a noble idea, but one that can easily be worked around. Not that I’d know first hand or anything…