By on November 18, 2016

2016 Honda Accord Sport Six-Speed Manual Shifter, Image: © 2016 Jeff Jablansky/The Truth About Cars

We knew it was happening, but the actual extent of three pedal abandonment remained somewhat elusive. It was more of a feeling than a grim statistical representation. Now we have a number, and it’s dismal.

The Los Angeles Times reports that an Edmunds study has shown that that less than 3 percent of all cars sold in the U.S. come with the transmission that many — ironically — still refer to as a “standard.”

Manual transmissions used to be the only game in town. Even after automatics gained traction in the automotive landscape, the stick typically offered superior fuel economy and a better sense of control. None of this remains true in today’s world of continuously variable transmissions and dual-clutch automatics. (Still great for rocking your car out of deep snow! – Ed.)

While the traditional manual does offer a level of driving involvement that’s impossible to replicate, U.S. automakers haven’t quite made sense of how to effectively market the act of added participation. Edmunds says that 47 percent of all new models sold in the U.S were offered with both automatic and manual transmissions in 2006. That number dropped to 37 percent in 2011 and is only 27 percent today.

The actual number of vehicles leaving the dealership with three pedals is much lower than that. Edmunds senior analyst Ivan Drury claims that the percentage of vehicles leaving the lot with a stick now mirrors third-party election results.

“That number is never going to go back up,” Drury said. “The trajectory is down, headed for zero.”

What happened? A quarter of all vehicle sales in 1992 America were shift-it-yourself and the manual has remained fairly popular in most of Europe and Asia.

Technology tells some of the story. Selecting your own gears no longer yields better economy, a faster lap time, or even a guaranteed lower MSRP. Automakers realized that there was a demand for automatics and kept making them better, for less money. As that demand grew, the U.S. market simply saw fewer sticks.

After a few decades America was left with the manual occupying a niche market and a public that grew up not needing to know how to operate a clutch. If you’re under 30, consider the lengths you had to go to learn to drive stick and how easy it would have been to just not have bothered.

For me, the basics of clutch engagement were learned via years of motorcycle ownership and badgering my father to let me repeatedly stall his Mustang SVT. While I would have preferred something much less daunting to begin on, I didn’t know anyone with a manual Ford Ranger or Civic DX who would let me practice.

That’s an even bigger problem for today’s young drivers — one that’s unlikely to change. Taking an informal survey of 10 local driving schools, the LA Times found only one that offered any instruction on driving stick, with just a single instructor knowing how.

So, that leaves us with a gradually shrinking minority asking for non-automated gear selection and automakers that know it isn’t going to be cost effective. Manual transmissions now appear on two different types of cars: unexciting base models of economy vehicles you hardly see at dealerships (e.g. Chevrolet Cruze), and more impractical enthusiast focused cars (e.g. MX-5). Although, with demand so low, expect the former to eventually dry up in North America while the latter continues to dwindle.

I wrote about how Ferrari claimed its abandonment of the manual transmission was related to performance concerns. And the company’s product marketing chief, Nicola Boari, stated that demand for manual Ferraris was “close to zero.”

While companies like Porsche and Subaru have maintained a loyalty to the three pedal lifestyle, it’s just a matter of time before they fall. After all, Lamborghini doesn’t offer a manual car anymore, either. Neither does Alfa Romeo or Mercedes-Benz. The question isn’t if this trend will continue but more of how long do we have with the classic gearbox design and what manufacturer will the next to abandon it.

[Image: © 2016 Jeff Jablansky/The Truth About Cars]

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196 Comments on “Not So ‘Standard’ Anymore: The Manual Transmission is Almost Dead...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Summary, upcoming comments:

    “Why I remember when… [1970’s anecdote].”

    “If [car x] had a manual, I would have definitely considered buying it. Manufacturers don’t support my pretend notions.”

    “I’m holding onto my [car y] because they just don’t make em like that no more with manual!”

    “Kids these days grumble grumble lazy grumble lawn [car z].”

    I’ve done it for you, so you don’t -have- to put us all through that repetitive nostalgic garbage. Thanks!

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Interestingly enough even in the late 60s the print rags were moaning about the manufacturers not spending R&D dollars on improving their manual transmissions. It has been a long slow death march for the clutch pedal.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Well at the end of the day, the human factor makes the modern transmission worse at what it’s supposed to do. Even the best manual will always be handicapped by the mammal interface.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        Exactly. We’ve been hearing that the manual is dead since, well, at least the last 25 years. Yet there are still a lot of choices for those who like to row their own.

        I just got a new Audi with a 6-speed manual, so I’m doing my part to support the cause.

      • 0 avatar
        TR4

        The number of speeds has increased from 3-4 in the 1960s to 5-7 nowadays. Also the clutch slave cylinder and throwout bearing are combined into a single unit on many modern transmissions, presumably to reduce final assembly costs.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      America is a shining city on a hill. God favors it over all the other nations of the World.

      I guess superior people prefer autos.

      I’m so glad we’re not like Europe. Great roads, excellent infrastructure, and nearly every vehicle is available with a manual. Not once was I able to say “That’s nice but I can’t get it with a stick.”

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        And yet, BMW had to be dragged by US buyers to offer a manual in the last generation M5….

        Manuals make the most sense in smaller, lighter, “slower” cars. The megapower, megaweight, megaspeed, megacomlexity, autopiloted rocketships that erstwhile makers of sporty cars hawk these days are, even with a manual, so far removed from having much of a mechanical, gearhead “feel” to them, that you may as well enjoy them along the last dimension they hang on to being good at: Going, and/or accelerating, as fast as possible. Something autos have been better at for at least a decade now.

        Europe’s mix is generally smaller, and lower powered. Hence more likely to show off a manuals’ strengths in the enjoyment department. Like the Miata and FiST.

      • 0 avatar
        kosmo

        Great roads?!

        Have you been to Italy?

        I love it, but “great roads” would apply to about 20% of them.

        • 0 avatar
          zerofoo

          Put Greece on that list. The last time I was there I had to turn around on a vespa due to a on-coming tour bus. There was no “other side” of the road when the bus was on it.

          I’ll take America’s infrastructure any day over much of what Europeans call infrastructure.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          I think the only European road American wanna-bes know about is the Autobahn, and assume every road on the continent is like that.

          • 0 avatar
            Japanese Buick

            JimZ: “I think the only European road American wanna-bes know about is the Autobahn, and assume every road on the continent is like that.”

            And they also have a idealized unrealistic view of the Autobahn. It’s very overrated by people who haven’t driven it. Lots of congestion, 50mph construction zones, many inadequate ramps. Except for the no speed limit zones, I’d put our Interstates, especially in the south and west, up against the Autobahn any day.

      • 0 avatar
        zerofoo

        Europeans have their tastes and Americans have theirs.

        News at 11.

        The angst over manual transmissions is comical. How many Model S owners complain about not being able to get a manual transmission?

        I’m looking forward to my Model 3 – and it’s utter lack of internal combustion and cog-swapping complexity.

        My kids will probably look at manual transmissions (and maybe all transmissions in general) as I look at the Stanley steamer.

        • 0 avatar
          Guitar man

          The picture there shows why – six speed manuals SUCK.

          Almost all motorcycles in the 1980s had 6 gears – now the majority have 5. Six gears is too many.

          • 0 avatar
            NMGOM

            Guitar Man – – –

            Interesting. Mike Miller, technical guru who writes for Roundel Magazine (BMW Club publication) also said the 5 speeds was about optimum for him.

            Five speeds made historical sense as an extension from the “three-on-the-tree” manuals I grew up with. Add one gear a bit lower to help starting up without working the clutch too hard; and add one gear up higher to aid fuel economy in highway driving. That equals 5.

            Personally, I would prefer a 7-speed (like Corvette), but then I love shifting and do so almost continually whether I need to or not! (must be a disease). And, when you include “reverse”, it make a nice symmetrical 4-across-the-top / 4-across-the-bottom display on the shift knob. (^_^)…

            ==============

          • 0 avatar
            BeerIsSoAwesome

            Regardless of what you think of 6-speeds, the notion that “the majority” of motorcycles have 5 gears is just totally wrong.

            6-speed is typical for street-oriented bikes. Some cruisers have 5 gears… some tiny bikes like the Honda Grom only have 4. Every sportbike has 6 speeds. Every sport-touring bike. Every hyperbike. Most sport-standards. Almost every sport-naked. Most adventure-touring and dual-sport bikes, except for the ones that haven’t been substantially updated since the early 90’s.

            If you want a 5-speed you have to buy a Harley-Davidson, which are obviously yester-tech bikes, however the more modern models (like the liquid-cooled Street series) are 6-speeds. Triumph will still sell you a 5-speed in the form of a Bonneville, but every other model is a 6-speed.

            The Yamaha Bolt, their Sportster-style cruiser, is a 5-peed. The R6, R1, FZ07, FZ09, FJR1300, Super Tenere, etc are all 6-speeds. Even their little WR250 dual-sport is a 6-speed now. The Suzuki DRZ400 is still a 5-speed, but that bike was introduced in 1990. The Ninja 250 has had 6 since its introduction in the late 80’s, and the current Ninja 300 still has 6. Almost every Honda has a 6-speed, even their “retro” CB1100.

            I don’t have time to go through the whole list, but the bottom-line is this: Some cruisers have a 5-speed, and many retro-styled (or simply old-tech) bikes come with a 5-speed, but the vast majority of bikes have 6-speeds today.

            A claim this totally observably wrong would only appear, and go completely unchallenged, on a site such as this one which is dedicated to cars.

          • 0 avatar
            bryand

            Manual transmissions are more fun, but if you want to have fun what are you doing in a car? Get a motorcycle. There’s a reason nearly all of them have manual transmissions.

  • avatar
    Old Man Pants

    I’d imagine MT abandonment pretty closely parallels cranked-window abandonment. They are equally weighty in my heart.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “Technology tells some of the story.”

    And there’s more story to tell on this subject.

    In 1992, when 25% of cars were offered with manuals, how many people had cell phones? How many cars had in-vehicle tech like navigation systems? Could you have your car display all your emails and text messages, or your apps? The tech we all take for granted today was basically nonexistent back then.

    Plain fact is, it’s harder to drive a manual car when you’re playing with your phone or fiddling with your navigation system. I’d say this is the main reason why younger buyers want nothing to do with manuals.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Millennials don’t even want to change their oil every 3000 miles, so how likely are they to want to make a correction to the engine/transmission every 25 seconds? :)

      • 0 avatar
        kosmo

        Oil change is an interesting parallel.

        Just like there is no longer a definite performance advantage to a manual, there is no longer any reason whatsoever to change your oil every 3,000 miles.

        Metallurgy and oil quality have come a long way, baby!

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      I call shenanigans on the it’s harder to do x dead horse. The majority of cellphone interaction would be done while you’re cruising already in gear. Furthermore most new cars have some sort of hands free integration standard.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        You’re right, Ion, but it’s still harder to deal with all the tech in your car and shift at the same time. I’m shopping for a new car, preferably with a manual, I’ve found this to be true.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        I don’t know if I should be proud or ashamed but I can text equally well/poorly while driving an auto or manual. I don’t text much though.

        • 0 avatar
          Zykotec

          Not admitting that I sometimes read massages or write a short one while driving. But if I were to do so I wouldn’t be doing it in stop and go traffic. Any place where I can drive above 50mph I will be in 5th gear all the time anyway and can steer with my knees if I have to . My previous automatic turd would regularly downshift from 5th even at 55 mph if it saw as much as an indication of an incline or a headwind. (sold it with a pretty awful loss just to get another manual)

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            That’s where dictating to your watch for messaging or through your car’s bluetooth comes in. Both hands on the wheel, eyes front, and you can say anything you want up to a long letter before you send it. Of course, your cursing at other drivers will get sent as well, though autocorrect might make it gibberish.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @ION – I am always amazed by the number of people I see chatting on their cell phone while sitting in a vehicle that has blue tooth.

    • 0 avatar
      CarnotCycle

      “Plain fact is, it’s harder to drive a manual car when you’re playing with your phone or fiddling with your navigation system.”

      That gets me wondering about crash/injury statistics; and if there is significant delta between incidents for a given model of manual vs. auto car. Anyone know if transmission-type impacts insurance rates at all for a given model of car?

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        CarnotCycle – – –

        Yeah. I wondered that myself and few years ago, and tried to research those data from both insurance companies and police forces. NOBODY records transmission type when accidents occur.

        My estimate is that driving a “manual” is safer, because it tends to force you to be more involved in driving and not succumb to the modern distractions already discussed above. And that may be statistically true if there were “all-else-equal” conditions (equal availability and purchase of manuals in for sedans, SUV’s pickups, sports cars, etc).

        But nowadays, manuals are offered in two primary classes of vehicles:
        1) Low-end cheap cars and trucks, not especially noted much for good safety anyway, in general;
        2) High-performance sports or sporty cars, whose drivers often push them into unsafe driving modes.

        Neither one of these two classes is among the safest situations on the road. So, I would say that it is probably a wash in terms of safety nowadays in America, but I could be wrong. More risk-prone vehicles with manuals, vs more distracted driving with automatics, — they may roughly balance out.

        I wonder if the German police keep track of transmission types, since about 75% of German drivers have manual transmissions (and 95% of Swiss drivers, who live in a mountainous country, to say the least!)?

        ======================

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      And that is the reason why after about 20 years of having only automatics in the driveway, I went out of my way to buy a new car with a stick. Felt that it would be safer and better for my 3 young drivers. Driving the manual was taxing enough that they did not have the time or inclination to stare at their phones.

      And 2 of them now actually prefer it to the 2 automatics in the driveway.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      nah, it’s even simpler for that. the vast majority of people drive because they *need* to. Not because they *want* to. A manual transmission for them is 100% hassle and 0% benefit.

    • 0 avatar
      Old Man Pants

      “In 1992, when 25% of cars were offered with manuals”

      “Ofered” as opposed to sold, right? And I wonder how many of these MTs were actually on dealers’ lots as opposed to existing somewhere in the pipeline just to allow lowball price advertising. Still that way with econocars.

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      >>”Plain fact is, it’s harder to drive a manual car when you’re playing with your phone or fiddling with your navigation system.”<<<

      Only if you're weak….

  • avatar

    Don’t forget some other makers who have loyal followings of MT drivers including BMW, Mazda family models, and all the high performance versions including Ford ST models, the pony cars, and others.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      The Mustang used to be 50% at least but I believe there is a majority of drag racers that have abandoned the manual as the autos produce better times overall especially when the horsepower gets much past the 400-500 range and take rate has suffered plus Ford is supposedly going to offer a Tremec based dual clutch trans on the GT350 in the near future if/when the cost comes down enough to offer in the GT that will probably be the death knell for the three-pedal Mustang.

      On the bright side that ought to pump up the value of the three pedal cars down the road.

      I’ve also read that Ford is possibly going to down-size the V8 in the F150 to 4.8 liters and if true the V8 Mustangs will certainly need the DCT as they are already handicapped in the displacement department at 5 liters (Ford really needs a 5.5 or larger coyote to really hang with GM’s LT engine when it comes to average power).

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        Drag racers use autos also because they’re stronger. Planetary gear sets can be incredibly robust because they’re contained within the ring gear. Parallel gear sets are weaker because as you increase the applied torque, the meshed gears are trying to push each other away. It’s why the Ram diesel with the 6 speed manual is de-rated by ~300 lb ft.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I’m sure we could argue that “real world” fuel economy for manuals still seems to beat EPA estimates while those CVTs seem designed to the test but rarely achieve those mileage figures on the street. Still, the efficiency differences are negligible and most people couldn’t care less.

    Electrification of cars also seems to negate the use of manual transmissions. The only hybrid I can recall coming with a manual was the first generation Honda Insight (the two-seater). It felt like a modern CRX-HF to drive and was surprisingly fun, but I wonder if it’s just more difficult for PHEVs and newer hybrids to interact efficiently and smoothly with them. It certainly would seem to complicate their design quite a bit with the way the redundant power trains interact.

    Glad to know my manual cars are that much more theft-resistant, at least.

    My girlfriend just bought a 2017 Subaru Forester with a 6-speed manual. This may likely be the last year a manual Forester is available from the hints the dealer gave us. As it was, stumbling across that car in inventory was like finding a Unicorn munching on chicken wings in a vegetarian restaurant. It had been a special order and the buyer ended up buying something else.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      My experience with CVTs is that they return excellent fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      The unloved-by-most-of-the-B&B (but not yours truly) Honda CR-Z offered a manual and it was a Hybrid. I think you could get a manual Civic Hybrid at one point.

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      In fact electric cars work very well with manuals, because of the even torque characteristics.

      And most electric motors, those with brushes and DC used on forklifts and the like, not the high tech super expensive types used in short production run EVs, have a quite limited rpm range and need _more_ gears than a ICE engine rather than fewer.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      stevelovescars – – –

      “….was like finding a Unicorn munching on chicken wings in a vegetarian restaurant.”
      Hah! This is brilliant. I’ll have to use that for an extreme example of improbable occurrences!

      I have five vehicles (oops — down to four now): they all have manual transmissions. I’d never leave home without one; in fact, I can’t. Two trucks; one Jeep; one BMW sports car (sold the BMW sedan).

      But here is a list of still-remaining advantages of manual transmissions that some have alluded to already:

      Advantages of Manuals (all else equal):
      1) More robust, durable, and longer-lasting;
      2) Less expensive to buy;
      3) Superior driver involvement**;
      4) Owner-doable oil change, which is also less frequent and less expensive;
      5) Requires no separate cooling system with its own radiator;
      6) Wear item = easily replaceable clutch (not the whole tranny!);
      7) Superior traction in slippery snow, by “feathering” the clutch;
      8) Almost air-tight theft protection.
      9) Less Opportunity for Distracted Driving >> Safer

      ** A car with an automatic offers typically 40% less opportunity for driver involvement than those with manuals.
      1) Number of Driving inputs with typical Manual = 5 (steering, gas, brake, clutch, shift);
      2) Number of Driving inputs with typical Auto = 3 (steering, gas, brake)
      Deficit = 2. Therefore, percent that Auto Trans is less involving = 2/5 = 40%.

      ====================================

    • 0 avatar
      bhtooefr

      The big thing is that a fair amount of the gains from a hybrid system are due to optimizing the power demand vs. engine efficiency. With a CVT or an eCVT, the hybrid system can put the engine RPM at the most efficient point for the current power demand, meaning the electric system doesn’t have to work as hard to compensate for imperfect gearing. And, even with a stepped automatic, the system can shift itself, and modify engine output to compensate for the transmission being in the wrong gear, until it is in the right gear.

      And, a manual hybrid makes it harder to smoothly shut off and restart the engine in motion, like many current hybrids do (note that even the CVT-equipped Honda hybrids were unable to do that, though), so that further limits what they can do to make things more efficient – cycling the engine is out. So, if the engine’s at too high RPM, all they can do is charge the battery and save the excess power for later, until the battery’s full, and then the engine must run less efficiently. Conversely, if the engine’s at too low RPM, all they can do is deploy battery energy until it’s empty, then you end up having to downshift (or the engine runs at a higher load than is efficient).

      For racing applications, this doesn’t matter as much – you’re running the engine flat out typically, and recovering energy only under braking. And, as most series ban CVTs, you get manuals. But, for the street, it definitely matters.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    I have friend with E9.x M3 with the DCT, and sure enough I bribed him with free lunch to drive it around. And it was a blast with the flappy-paddles (which he never used ironically) etc.

    He of course wanted to drive my car next, and free lunch was agreed upon. He got in my car, and…I still drove us to my (still free) lunch.

    So there are still some unspoken advantages with manual transmissions!

  • avatar
    soberD

    It’s hard to look at facebook while driving stick, I guess.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I suspect you’ll be able to get a manual transmission in sporty cars for quire a few years to come, but that they’ll disappear from everything else. Next up, I expect that compact sedans will lose them. Toyota’s already going down that road.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Most people don’t like driving and “driver involvement” is not a positive for them.

    It’s pretty simple: manuals used to be better in a lot of quantifiable ways, and today they’re not better in any quantifiable way except in the few cars using ancient 4-speed autos. Today they are purely an idiosyncratic lifestyle choice made for fuzzy reasons and requiring some specialized knowledge that most people don’t have.

    And with the best of the current autos, it’s not even clear to me that the manual driving experience is better. In sport-oriented cars, the instant-feeling shifts of a dual-clutch unit are hard to beat. In less sporty cars, today’s better autos are smooth enough to totally eliminate head toss. I’ll still look for manuals in older cars, but I’m not sure I’d buy a manual in most newer cars even if it were available. And the exceptions are cars which have an old-school feel to them, like Mustangs or the Chevy SS.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The clutch in my 05 xB1 was not satisfying. On humid/cold mornings, the clutch would shudder until it warmed up – a problem which began at around 30k miles. It was as though I had never driven a stick for the prior 30 years.

      The car was otherwise excellent, but I don’t miss using the clutch it had.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Manuals aren’t better. They’re more engaging and fun for those that appreciate them, but they’re not faster or more efficient.

      When Audi made the A3 with DSG and manual, I drove them back to back. The DSG was faster, but I enjoyed the 3 pedal experience more.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      yep. once automatics reached (and then surpassed) the number of forward gear ratios of manuals, the economy advantage of manuals evaporated.

      Back in the day, when you had a choice between a 3 speed non-OD slushbox and a 5 speed OD manual, it was a different story.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Electronic controls was the other part of it. With computers that control the whole powertrain, transmissions were able to shift at lower rpm and to keep the torque converter locked much more of the time. With all of that plus the greater number of gears and ratio spread, it’s totally logical that automatics now typically get better fuel economy.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    One factor is the aging US population:

    Median age in 1990 = 32.9
    Median age in 2015 = 37.8

    That’s a huge change over the course of one generation. My aging knees (53) are less happy to drive a stick, having last done so in 2012.

    Here’s another problem: Buying a car with a stick now means you can’t share the vehicle if you want to. When it comes to my family, that would mean owning a car only one person can use.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Needing to teach my daughters to drive is what got me out of my manual transmission car.

      • 0 avatar
        JimDog

        Funny… I have two girls. I told both that if I’m pitching in for a car it had to be a manual. Taught my oldest in one weekend. She’s now a freshman in College and absolutely loves her 2000 Honda Prelude. No one she knows in school can drive stick (friends can’t borrow her car; Great!) And they all think she’s a badass cause she can drive this weird car you have to shift LOL. Up next will be my youngest…

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “When it comes to my family, that would mean owning a car only one person can use.”

      And in my case, that’s by design. The cool new car with the fancy teenager-catnip touchscreen is Dad’s, kids…you can drive the old Buick. Want something nicer? Work your butt off in school, and buy whatever you want when you graduate and move out of my house, thus leaving me financially free to buy my Competition Orange Mustang GT.

      (twists mustache)

    • 0 avatar
      wario

      About a month ago my 65 year old dad bought his very first AT car for similar reasons. He seemed a little ashamed of it, though his preference for MTs was mostly because they were cheaper than automatics.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      there was a time when we simply didn’t have auto in family. We have one now for last 16 years because one large car needed and it is auto. But our score in these 15 years is always 2-1 for manual. My wife drives manual better than most men.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I have two cars with manuals – a Mini Cooper and a Clubman. My wife refuses to drive an automatic transmission now. And I couldn’t imagine her Mini with an automatic, it would be just, uh, weird.

    The next car purchase will be interesting as she will be taking over the newer Clubman and I’ll be looking for something larger. I do see Countryman sticks and the occasional newer BMW/Audi, and more sports car orientated vehicles, but at this point I need something with a lot more room. I’m hoping a stick 3-series will do, or else it’s going to be an automatic on a 4Runner or whatever full-frame SUV / pickup catches my fancy. I certainly didn’t mind the auto in my departed T100 or Roadmaster, but those were different vehicles than the Minis.

  • avatar

    Given that the vast majority of people use cars to commute to work and other places, no one wants to put up with rowing their own gears/riding the clutch as they slug to and from their McMansions in the ‘burbs.

    Most people would actually rather let the car do all of the driving for them.

    • 0 avatar
      Drew8MR

      I love manuals and they are the only cars I buy with my own money, but even I have a beater with an auto for my 9 mile crawl up and down Harbor blvd. Driving the Evo is a chore, and the Caterham might as well be invisible at 0 dark thirty.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Increasing traffic congestion (due to growing population and urban sprawl) also means driving a stick is a much less enjoyable experience. Using one in Pittsburgh traffic on an uphill grade for miles in stop-n-go traffic is decidedly NO FUN.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Traffic is the main reason my wife is about to give up on her manual. Her next car she wants an A/T. However she also wants something “sporty” and agreed if she gets something along those lines she get it with a stick. For example she is currently debating between an Accord Coupe and Infiniti G39 (sorry Q60… so stupid). If she gets the Infiniti she go stick. However that also means going with a ’14 because I believe the ’16s only come with… yep that’s right A/T only.

        Thus this might be the LAST car she buys with a stick because there just aren’t making them anymore. Its sad but given the direction we are going with automated driving features the idea of actually moving a level to control a car is starting to look extremely out dated.

        Heck you don’t even have to turn a key these days to drive as we have push button start. As someone above mentioned, its like power windows, nobody cranks them anyone thus the manual is dead. I’ll pour one out tonight.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Automatics used to suck. They don’t anymore for most cars.

    Also, drivers don’t want engagement in cars – they want an appliance. Self driving cars can’t come soon enough for most drivers.

    Lane departure warnings, auto braking, self steering…. people want these things while they Tweet.

    Most people just don’t want to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      Automatics still suck in most cars. Admittedly there are some good semiautomatics out there, and if you can sell my house 4 times over you can get an ‘intelligent’ automatic in a Rolls Royce.
      I may be biased because I’ve only had one or two cars with what could be called a slightly ‘difficult’ manual gearbox, but if I absolutely have to drive a car that wants to decide for itself, it better do it seamlessly and smoothly like a cvt or electric car.

  • avatar
    tomm

    As long as Porsche can charge $3,200 “extra” for a PDK transmission, I would think that the manual will continue to be offered as a way to show a lower base price even if ~90% of Porsche sports cars are now ordered with a PDK. I don’t care the reason a manual is offered; I’m just glad that you can still buy a “fun to drive” car that is more fun to drive with a manual.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    This trend is handicapping our young people.
    It was obvious to me after spending 2 weeks in England and Ireland that the typical millennial over there can drive a manual transmission car, text on a smart phone, smoke a cigarette, and drink coffee simultaneously.

  • avatar
    john66ny

    In all seriousness, I wonder, when automatic spark timing advance came into prominence, did people bemoan the demise of the steering wheel spark adjustment lever?

    (I’m a rabid manual transmission fan BTW)

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      How did that work, + more spark and – less sparky?

      • 0 avatar
        john66ny

        Yep. See from the Model T:

        http://www.mtfca.com/books/pix/p2s.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        BigOldChryslers

        Basically an extra arm off the steering column, mechanically connected to the distributor to rotate the distributor body.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Very interesting. And complicated to work on while you’re driving.

          • 0 avatar
            indi500fan

            I wonder how much of that was to compensate for a wide variation in early era fuel quality?

          • 0 avatar
            TR4

            The manual timing had to be set to full retard before hand cranking. This minimized the possibility of kick back and a sore or broken arm. For cruising it was advanced for economy and power.

            My ’50 Chevrolet, ’64 Triumph, and ’69 MG all had automatic advance of course, but they still had calibrated “octane” selector” marks on the distributor for the owner to adjust for fuel quality if desired.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        no, it changed the spark *timing.* typically engines fire the spark plug at 8-11 degrees before top-dead-center (BTDC) at idle, and as the engine spins faster the timing is advanced such that the plug fires even sooner BTDC. This is because the fuel-air mixture burns smoothly outward from the ignition point (the spark) so you need to fire the plug slightly ahead of time.

        on old hand-cranked engines, cranking them was so slow that you needed to retard the timing to fire the plug after top dead center (ATDC.) if it fired BTDC, it could push the piston back down, reversing the engine, and possibly breaking your arm as the crank lever whipped around.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      I doubt it, the stereotype for those old back-firing Model T’s you occasionally see in movies is a direct result of having to manually advance and retard the timing on those old cars.

      I’m sure people shed the same amount of tears as when the industry developed transistorized ignition timing modules and eliminated points as well as the electric starter motor which is to say none.

      To my knowledge only the carburetor was really missed when phased out by fuel injection.

      I think my only real complaint when it comes to automatics taking over isn’t so much the transmissions themselves but the technologists that dismiss manual transmission operators as luddites – man that gets old really quick.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        I’m not one of them. Carburetors and their chokes can stay history.

        • 0 avatar
          Old Man Pants

          Manual chokes were fine. Once I replaced the Rube Goldberg attempts at automating them with an add-on cable I never had a problem starting a cold, carbureted engine.

          But EFI was one of the greatest innovations since cabin heat and a seeming miracle to us who had been driving before it.

          “Jesus, see that?! He just started right up and took right off! The f*ck!”

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      I have a copy of “The Motorcycle” from 1944 and it does have people lamenting the lack of an advance lever and its replacement by the “noisy, jerky” three speed gearbox (the old bikes had a single gear).

      And I also remember people moaning about the lack of a crank handle hole on new cars in the 1970s.

      Manual chokes were okay – it was auto chokes that sucked. Chrysler, anyone ?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The real end game is the 1-speed EV transaxle – highly reliable, easy to drive, and no more gear hunting.

  • avatar
    FreezingD

    Eventually all new cars sold will be autonomous electrics or hybrids, as enforced by our government overlords. Enthusiasts know the days are numbered but I for one continue to put my money where my mouth is, as the last new vehicle I purchased just 2 short months ago was a stick shift. It’s a blast to drive, even in the city.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “U.S. automakers haven’t quite made sense of how to effectively market the act of added participation. ”

    they can’t. it’s like selling sand in the desert. for 99% of the driving 95% of car buyers do, a manual transmission is nothing but a needless hassle.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    “The manual transmission is almost dead” is a line we have seen before and they’re still managing to hang on. Yes, I do see the day coming when it will disappear entirely, but really not until there is simply no need for transmissions any more. Electric vehicles are currently proving that the only gearing you need is either reduction gearing from high-speed motors to give better torque or step-up gearing to improve top speed (at a reduction of startup torque.) I’m thinking a change of gears alone could improve range significantly, though might reduce the effectiveness of ‘Ludicrous Mode’ from 2.9 seconds 0-60mph to 4.9 seconds, which is still remarkably quick for most drivers (and use a limiter to inhibit the now 200+mph top end resulting.)

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      electric cars will not overtake us any time soon

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        No, but electrical drivetrains may replace old fashioned the cogs and axles and slushboxes that siste between the engines and driving wheels on most cars. Until they do, I’m in charge of when my car swaps its ratios about.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I’d give EVs about 20 years to make up a notable proportion of new cars on the road… maybe 40%-60% by 2035.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          It is not the car, it is the electric grid that can’t sustain them

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @slavuta; It is not the car, it is the electric grid that can’t sustain them

            The electric grid won’t have a problem with EVs. Plenty of other electric devices and appliances draw as much or more power than an EV. My dual convection ovens in pizza mode put my EV to shame.

            We also have plenty of time to build the grid up. It’s probably not going to be an overnight transition, so they have many years to adjust for EVs. Where I live in the northeast us, we’re seeing lots of solar going up and LED streetlights are starting to replace the old mercury vapor lights. Next, we might see more storage like the Tesla powerwall coming on-line.

            Another thing is that EV owners aren’t running their EVs to empty every day. Non-EV owners seem to think we run them down to nothing every day and charge from empty. There also seems to be a myth that it’s at max current draw for the entire charge. That’s just not what it’s like in the real world. I just returned from an errand that used up maybe 1/12th of my range. When I plugged it in, the EVSE didn’t recharge at the full 30 amp rate. Not sure what it was, but I think in the past it’s been at well under 10 amps when its that close to 100%.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            I don’t think you’re running your ovens in pizza mode all night, while everyone else is too.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @JimZ: I see you chose to ignore everything mcs said after “pizza ovens”.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          The most interesting thing I’ve seen with electric motors replacing transmissions is Rimacs all wheel torque vectoring. A separate motor at each wheel. Try that with a non-hybrid ICE.

          youtube.com/watch?v=bD2Do1gAuog

  • avatar
    kogashiwa

    Twenty years from now the percentage of new cars with manuals will be far higher than it is now. Providing you only count non-autonomous cars.

  • avatar
    Driver8

    From my cold, dead, left foot.

  • avatar
    makuribu

    The sporty cars will all end up equipped with dual clutch transmissions and paddle shifters. You can’t beat a computer for shifting speed, and you get fewer embarrassing gear clashes when the brain loses sync between two feet and the gear shifting hand.

    I love my 5MT except when I get stuck in endless traffic on the 401 through Toronto. Then you might as well have a car with a CVT and collision avoidance technology so you just take your foot off all the pedals and write comments on TTAC while you coast between autonomous emergency braking.

    When will Europe catch up? Every time I rent over there, it’s twice as much for an automatic. I drive around the hills of southern France in a tiny TDi six speed econobox, but I know I’m not getting optimal fuel economy. And who knows what the emissions are?

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Because manual transmissions are on their way out and have already gone missing in a lot of vehicles when I saw my current truck I knew I had to have it because it had that mythical beast a close ratio 4sp + OD and Low. Make no mistake I told myself it is not the most practical choice but that didn’t matter.

    It is a 2006 F250 crew cab, long bed, 4×4 and only has the 3v 5.4. I don’t drive it that much and to be honest I’m having a little trouble adapting to it and learning the shift points ect. Besides my Scouts the last vehicle we had with a MT was our 1990 Ranger that we got rid of in 1995.

    The fact that since then the only vehicles I’ve regularly drove with a MT are my Scouts is causing a problem. The IH 345 (5.6) is a low revving truck motor with a redline of 3700 rpm and it really doesn’t do a lot of good to rev it much past 3000 rpm. Plus it only has to haul around ~4000lbs. So 4th gear at 30mph or even under is common.

    Contrast that with the F250’s 5.4 that is the 3v that you need to rev and it has to haul around a minimum of 7000lbs. That means still in 3rd gear at 35mph and forget about OD around town.

    The biggest problem however is due to the Scout having a non syncro 1st. With the low end torque and light weight that means 2nd gear starts from a slow roll. Doesn’t work in the F250 nearly as well, though I’ve almost broken myself of that habit.

    I don’t know how long I’ll be willing to live with it but at least I can say I had one of the rare beasts.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      What’s the rear axle in the F-250? Our ’08 F-350/V-10/6-speed has a 4.30 rear, so it’ll start in 2nd just fine, but it’s already breathing hard at 65 mph.

      Also, a 5.4 in a CCLB 4×4 truck must be an absolute dog. The only Super Duty I’d even consider it in would be a regular cab 4×2 F-250.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “While companies like Porsche and Subaru have maintained a loyalty to the three pedal lifestyle”

    Funny that I read names of many cars here but in real life, almost all Mazdas come with manual and you can easy find it on the lot

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Almost all Mazdas *are offered* with a manual, and not with all engines and/or in all trim levels. A CX-5, for example, has a manual option (the only such option on any compact CUV, IIRC), but it’s only on the base model (in three “colors”) with the 2.0 engine and FWD only.

  • avatar
    Perc

    I was born, bred and am living in Finland, the country with the oldest and crappiest cars in Western Europe. Over here, anything more expensive than a poverty spec 3 series/A4/C class/S60 is almost always ordered with an automatic. For VAG cars, the take rate of automatics is even higher than that (and goes lower down in the food chain) thanks to the DSG.

    I was 24 or so when I realized I just don’t see the point of moving cogs back and forth with a stick while I’m driving. I still enjoy driving, but moving cogs with a stick is just not a part of it. The car was invented to serve us humans, and not having to move cogs with a stick is a part of that. I enjoy having technology work for me, not the other way around.

    Lots and lots of seniors still drive manuals though. They’ve always done so and see no reason to switch to an automatic even though they lack the hearing and feel required to operate a manual transmission properly. They simply don’t know it exists, or think it uses too much fuel, or whatever.

    For the record, I drive a manual transmission on a daily basis because my employer pays me to do so. I would prefer not to have to, though.

  • avatar
    threeer

    It’ll come down to a hand-full of specialty/enthusiast cars that have manuals as cost-extra options. The “standard” transmission will be the CVT.

    Get yer sticks while you can!

  • avatar
    pdieten

    All the jokers whining about people driving automatics because they can’t text or Facebook in the car get on my nerves. Everyplace I drive is either a busy city street or a congested freeway, and the same is true for the thousands of people surrounding me. Is the need to focus on the road without whacking a pedestrian or another car insufficient reason to not want to be bothered with having to spend time and brain cycles on keeping the car in the correct gear too? I’m more than happy to outsource that tedious job to the car’s computer and fluid couplings.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      It’s generally the people who somehow think they’re “special” or more of a “driver” because they can drive a stick.

      I’ve owned plenty of cars and one truck with “sticks”. My BB Trans Am was fun with the 4SP and in ’79 was the only transmission the 400 Poncho motor was mated to. The 403 Olds and pooch 301 Pontiac V8s came with autos.

      And sticks in trucks absolutely suck. Towed with one for 11 years. You couldn’t give me a truck with a stick shift.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Or, maybe its just a part of driving some enjoy more than others, no snarky attitude required.

        Just because one doesn’t like driving a manual does not give them the right to mock all those who feel differently.

  • avatar
    Spyharpy

    Not my post but perfectly said:

    I’m tired of the stat sheet racing. Automatics might be faster, but it’s not worth it to give up all the fun and perks of a manual just to shave off fractions of a second for shifts. The number of Ferraris (or any car outside of scratch-built race cars) being raced competitively in a way that would ever matter at all is a tiny fraction of the cars sold.

  • avatar
    deanst

    My fearless prediction is that buyers of 2-door cars with manual transmissions will be getting great deals if current trends continue.

  • avatar
    EAF

    I absolutely love the CVT in Mom’s 2015 Accord. Driving it seems so…. “effortless” I guess is the best word I can use to describe the experience. I don’t think I could ever feel fatigued driving it.

    Having said this, I have broken the slushbox on every automatic equipped vehicle I have ever owned. Whereas, I have yet to break a manual gearbox although I had to replaced 1 clutch (racing).

    Not sure if the CVT can take the abuse of my heavy right foot as the manuals have???

    Only time will tell. Rantingggggg

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Nowadays it’s actually possible to get an ‘automatic-only’ drivers license in Norway. Without having to prove you have a disabilty. Also, one third of all cars in Norways now get to decide for themselves when they want to shift. I’m not a fan of this trend at all.
    But, I do know that there are a lot of people out there who hate cars, and hate driving, or are challenged in some way, and just can’t learn what most adults do as a reflex. Heck, there are people out there who can’t even use their indicators. So for them, I guess automatics are a nice thing. Also, if you drive all day in stop and go traffic I guess letting your left foot relax can be nice. So, yeah, I wouldn’t ban automatics, but I’m more and more happy that I can’t afford a brand new car every day :)
    The next time I buy an automatic it either has an electrical drivetrain of some sort, or it’s a 4 door hardtop with a bigblock and tailfins.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Well, aren’t we smug today?

      Personally, I prefer autoboxes because I can left-foot brake more consistently. LFB chops at least a dozen feet off potential stopping distances, maybe more, and allows me far more precise control of the car in twisties. All things being equal, I find a car with a good automatic *more* engaging, because I have more direct control over what it’s doing at any given moment.

      But no, I guess all that’s not true and I must just be a drooling idiot who hates cars, right?

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        I wasn’t trying to be smug, I’m trying to subdue a passive agressive fit XD.
        I frikking hate all the braking I have to do in automatic cars. Any braking that isn’t an emergency or an effort to actually stop the car can usually be done with the clutch. Left foot braking when you’re used to manuals is a steep learning curve too XD
        You don’t have to hate cars to enjoy an auto, but you almost have to live somewhere where the benefits of an auto outweigh the downsides, and like a brand of car that can’t make a decent manual. (if I was forced to drive a Mercedes I guess I would have gotten the Auto)
        Good automatics are rare, especially in used cars, and most of them act somewhat differently, while most manuals do what you tell them, when you tell them. For the most part I never found automatics to make driving easier at all. With the exception of hill starts, and accelleration from a stop with a trailer, I mostly think automatics are just annoying and a chore.
        I can admit that in some modern cars ,that really want to be sensory deprivation chambers, a manual can be annoying as you have to watch the tach all the time, but such cars aren’t exactly my cup of tea.

        • 0 avatar
          chazbet

          The automatic has not yet been built that knows which gear I’m going to want to be in, looking down the road.

          • 0 avatar
            kosmo

            Precisely. Close comments thread.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            However, the automatic HAS been built that makes it easy to choose the specific gear you want, when you want it, letting you choose what gear best serves the need. Just move the lever into the +/- mode and up/downshift when YOU want to shift.

          • 0 avatar
            Funky

            Chazbet; Yes. This exactly. Thank you.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            You’re only impressing yourself, peacock.

          • 0 avatar
            Funky

            JimZ; If you are referring to chazbet; chazbet has probably impressed some others including me. If you are referring to me; it isn’t a matter of impressing others. It is a matter, as a paying customer of new automobiles, a person who likes driving, and an individual who prefers a manual transmission, of highlighting the correctness of chazbet’s comment. Perhaps someday the autopilot/autonomous function will look ahead and anticipate road conditions for proper gear selection. It cannot now. Nor can any available automatic transmission.

  • avatar
    awdpanda

    I think this is only true for US and maybe Canada. Companies will continue to develop and offer manual transmissions for awhile. They’ll just stop bringing it over here for the high volume models.

  • avatar
    True_Blue

    When I’m driving my stick cars, I don’t even think about the gear changes. In fact when I DO consciously consider what I’m doing, I screw up the change or forget what gear I’m in. It’s a very base-level action now.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I’ve never willingly purchased a car with an automatic, but I’m on what is likely my last stickshift car.

    It took me a few months to find a used, manual transmission car with cruise control. The Sonic is an okay car, but not fabulous or engaging.

    My tastes change, and the sorts of cars I will want in the future are unavailable or exceptionally rare with a manual – and then you have a car with severely reduced resale value.

    I just don’t feel the need for the hassle anymore.

  • avatar
    Funky

    My new Mazda 6 with a manual transmission should arrive in a few weeks. And, my 2016 Tacoma also has a manual transmission. In general, I prefer driving with the manual transmission. And, I hope availability continues.

    On a side note, I couldn’t imagine using anything other than a truck with a manual for towing a trailer or for carrying heavy loads. The added control, in my opinion/experience (driving a delivery truck long long ago and towing a trailer currently), is absolutely necessary. When used in a car, I think it’s just more fun than an automatic.

    And, by-the-way, Mazda includes their city safety automatic braking system on their manual 6’s. With this, I was impressed because I didn’t have to give up this safety feature.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      On a side note, I couldn’t imagine using anything other than a truck with a manual for towing a trailer or for carrying heavy loads. The added control, in my opinion/experience (driving a delivery truck long long ago and towing a trailer currently), is absolutely necessary.

      Tow/haul mode in pickup truck transmissions has removed the one advantage manuals still had over automatics in pickups. Among other things, it holds the transmission in one gear longer when ascending or descending a hill, and it allows the driver complete control over changing gears with a -/+ on the gearshift. Simply put, it made manuals completely obselete, which is why no full-size pickup offers one except the Ram HD with the non-HO Cummins diesel (and they’re just doing that because it’s a completely paid-off powertrain and to brag that they have a “class-exclusive” manual option).

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I would rather have a CVT transmission than an automatic with 8 to 10 speeds which are more complex and expensive to replace and repair. My preference is for a manual but I do see the day when there are no more automatics. The automatic transmission in the Ford Focus is about the worst transmission I have ever driven–better to have a CVT. I enjoy driving my one remaining manual transmission and I will hold on to it as long as I can. It even has crank windows.

  • avatar
    doublechili

    MTs are like FOX News. People who like FOX News think less of the people that watch other channels. People who don’t like FOX news resent the fact that it exists, even though the poor bastards who watch FOX News really have no other options.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    While I’m sad so see the manual transmission go, I think we should thank the Japanese for extending its life. So many American vehicles with manual transmissions were absolute crap to drive. (And there really weren’t enough European vehicles to make much of a difference.)

    The horrible column-mounted shifters; the clunky, awkward, heavy clutches; the clutch pedals mounted at odd angles; and never knowing just where the stupid thing would start to engage. You could never “heel-and-toe” with them, even you wore a shoe size 15 EEE.

    Manual transmissions probably would died in the 1970s if the Japanese hadn’t come along with their smooth-shifting synchronized stick shifts and light clutches.

  • avatar
    JREwing

    I’m thankful for the fact that Honda still sees fit to put manual transmissions in the Accord, including my 2012. Stupidly, however, you can’t pair the 6-speed manual with the V6 and 4 doors anymore.

    Manual shifting controls on the newer automatics do a decent enough job when I need it. But I still constantly am at odds with whatever the transmission programmers decided was the correct shifting strategy. A real manual transmission takes all the guesswork out of what gear to be in and what kind of acceleration I need NOW.

    One bright side of manual transmission scarcity: I can be fairly confident that most car thieves won’t know what the hell to do with a stick, and leave my car alone. :D

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      “Stupidly, however, you can’t pair the 6-speed manual with the V6 and 4 doors anymore.”

      I wouldn’t call the lack of a V6 manual “stupid”–more like, it costs a lot to offer another powertrain option that has to be MPG-tested but won’t actually get bought by any new buyers. Similar situation with the manual/4-door option. If no one buys them, why keep making them?

      Shift points are usually programmed for the best economy.

  • avatar
    W126

    I drive a manual and I understand the appeal, but manual transmissions have a lot going against them. Automatics of different types have had a lot of research put into them to the point that a PDK or a GM 10-speed (optional in the new Camaro ZL1) can shift faster than Ayrton Senna. This was not the case 20 years ago where manuals could at least pull off superior acceleration times by journalists doing clutch dumps on cars they didn’t have to pay for or maintain. In real world stoplight races, it’s pretty hard for a manual to outdo a good automatic on a comparable car. Automatics keep getting better where manuals are pretty stagnant technology, whether it’s stubborn synchros or the fact that every manual car has a different friction point on its clutch and different feel to its shifter, the average driver does not want to put up with these idiosyncrasies. Also while a manual can be fun it can also expose a person’s lack of skill, picture the rich fat cat stalling his Ferrari in front of a bunch of hot girls in South Beach (first world problems) or grinding a synchro when the light turns green. It’s gotten to the point that for ultimate performance one should choose the automatic option e.g. on a 2017 Porsche 911 or a BMW M2. Hopefully the option of a manual will remain for the minority of drivers who want absolute control over what gear they’re in and enjoy mastering the art of driving a manual well, otherwise manual transmissions will go the way of carburetors with manual chokes and enthusiasts will tell their grandkids about them.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    Manual availability seems to be asymptotic–approaching, but never reaching zero, and taking longer and longer to get there over time.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    The EPA fuel economy test procedure dictates shift points for manuals. Automatics can be programmed to shift whenever they want to maximize fuel economy on the test. Neither shift schedule has anything to do with the real world, which is why manuals still get excellent mileage in the real world and why the increasing CAFE standard is driving them out of the lineups of even the automakers who not long ago sold a bunch of them.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      [Citation needed]

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        I’d like to help you but if you can’t come up with search terms to find the answer, how can you hope to read a chart that shows how many seconds into the EPA dyno test shifts occur and at what speeds? It’s tricky for someone who can’t find answers on the internet!

        https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-10/us065spd.txt

        Hint: The first 1-2 shift on the test occurs after 11.2 seconds have elapsed as 15 mph is reached. That’s a long time to be in first gear, and it doesn’t help the overall fuel economy average of a manual car relative to an automatic that has jumped into a much taller gear during such glacial acceleration.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Glacial acceleration is right. Even in my old 4-cyl Ranger I’m already in third gear at 40-45mph and ready to shift into fourth on a 5-speed and I’m not even really pushing her at that speed. Now, if I were pushing I’m probably wound up pretty tight in third by then, going near or over 60mph.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-10/ftp5spd.txt

            Here’s another one where the 1-2 upshift occurs after 25.3 seconds have elapsed as 15 mph is reached. A modern automatic would have spent 24 of those seconds in taller gears, enabling a much better result on the test.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Automatic = more better appliance.

    Stick = more involvement, enjoyment and passion for vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Old Man Pants

      When I see a car with tits and ass I’ll get passionate. Otherwise just give me something that starts every day and keeps the rain out.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      My view of this is that a stick is fun and engaging, but only on a relatively low powered car where your skill is really needed to keep the thing moving. On a high horsepower high torque monster, your manual stick driving skills aren’t a factor – and slow the car down since humans can’t shift it fast enough.

      To me, vintage low powered sports cars are the most fun you can have on the road. A car like that really needs your shifting skills. You really get a great workout. It’s a challenge.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      I would argue that “more involvement, enjoyment and passion for vehicle” is not limited to shifting gears with your hands and feet.

      So the biggest argument I see around here for manuals is “enjoyment”. That even on a silly 8 mile commute, the “passionate” shift-your-own guy considers that to be “enjoyment”.

      It occurred to me that there’s another huge group out there passionate about their cars, getting involved and having passion: Prius drivers.

      While they may not be shifting gears and matching revs, what they get out of their cars is arguably exactly the same passion and emotion that the shift-your-own crowd gets. And what’s wrong with that?

      I’ll tell you what’s wrong with that: the overly passionate driver, the anti-social one, the one who takes it to extremes, bothers other drivers immensely. The Prius driver who plays his dashboard video game, trying to get the high score, driving with his shoes off to “feel” the engine turning on/off; or maybe the old man with nowhere to be in any hurry, puttering around even slower because of that big screen showing him his “score” and trying to eke out just a few more miles before filling up–you’ve all been behind these people when you have places to go. Or worse, you’re the twelfth guy in line behind this idiot on a two lane road, full of curves and solid yellow lines.

      But hang on, there’s also the equally anti-social shift-your-own types, playing their games in traffic for their own enjoyment, getting in the way of the average Joe just trying to get to work. THEY know what THEY’RE doing, if only the rest of the world would GET OUT OF THEIR WAY so they can enjoy their funmobile. Those drivers are just as bad as any Prius driver any of you ever made fun of.

      So understand that shifting your own is not the only way to get enjoyment, understand that you CAN take it to extremes and get in the way of the world, and understand that most of the drivers in the world are just trying to get from A to B mindlessly and effortlessly, ignorant of the machinery they’re using to do so.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I grew up, driving a “succession of three on the tree early 60’s “B” GM’s. Standard steering, and brakes. Were they fun to drive ? Sure were ,at least in my 17 year old mind.

    I consider myself an enthusiast, and at the age of 62, still enjoy driving a stick. I really hope that the MT doesn’t completely die out. That all being said…I’m simply too old, and lazy, to drive a stick on a daily basis.

    • 0 avatar
      Old Man Pants

      Grew up the same way but more pickups than sedans/wagons. You just didn’t focus on the tranny because, hey, that’s how you make the thing go and at that age you wanna GO.

      Similarly, when things morphed to where I was only driving ATs I didn’t particularly miss the MT except for engine braking. But hugely better brakes have mostly done away with even that advantage.

      It’s like a garage door: if I have to manually lift it, fine. If I don’t, even better.

  • avatar
    Spyharpy

    Automatic transmission = ability to shut off one’s brain and left leg.

  • avatar

    Because of China and India, manual transmissions will be around for at least another generation. As long as manuals are cheaper to build than automatics (including CVTs, DCTs, and conventional torque converter ATs) there will still be a market for them in developing markets.

    I like the engagement of shifting myself and bought a Honda Fit with a 6MT, but I’d be silly to think that I can shift a transmission better than ZF or McLaren’s computers can do it.

  • avatar
    jjster6

    Cubs win the World Series, sum’bitch Trump wins the election, and manuals are coming to an end. Let the apocalypse begin, I’m ready!!!

  • avatar
    George B

    It is sad that young drivers have so few opportunities to learn to drive a car with a manual. When I started driving last century there were lots of beater passenger cars and trucks with both manual transmissions and boat loads of low-end torque. Much easier to get started driving a manual if you’re not worried about stalling the engine or breaking something. Harder to get started if the only manual transmission cars available are too nice for young drivers to abuse.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Why can’t you get it through your heads that people (by and large) don’t want manual transmissions? THEY. DON’T. WANT. THEM.

      All of your preening about how “sad” it is they “don’t have the opportunity to experience them” is totally, 100% clueless.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        No, actually the reason most people want automatics is that they believe they are more convenient than a manual. And the main reason people want automatics is that they think manuals are somehow hard to use. And that truly is sad. If more people had learned to use manuals, and more cars had been available with them, more people would have bought them. In Europe most 16 year olds have no problem learning how to use them quite quickly and we’re not even talking good manuals, because Japanese cars are not the norm here. Some kids have to learn in older german cars, and they survive too ( I think there’s a reason why most Mercedes are automatics)
        But if I were a car manufacturer who wanted to make my production leaner, I would make sure there were no manuals available, or real colors, or decent seats. To me not having a manual is as bad as not having an adjustable steering wheel, or adjustable seats. To me an automatic is just an uneccessary inconvenience.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          This is the stupidest thing I’ve read in this whole comment section. It’s nothing more than clueless enthusiast drivel from someone who simply can’t comprehend that the vast majority of people drive because they HAVE to, not because they WANT to. A manual transmission IS harder to use, and if your car is only a means to the end of getting somewhere, it’s just a needless hassle. “Engagement” or “fun to drive” is nowhere on the list of priorities.

          “If more people had learned to use manuals, and more cars had been available with them, more people would have bought them.”

          Did you even read the damn article? There used to be more cars available with them. *people stopped buying them.*

          • 0 avatar
            Old Man Pants

            There’s an almost islamist level of determination to paint Americans’ overwhelming rejection of MTs as an indication of sinful sloth.

            Makes me want to ululate.

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            And still in most countries where decent manuals are available and people get more than a half decent driver training people still buy manuals…
            The fact that most autos can be shifted manually by now prove that people actually don’t mind having some sort of interaction with their cars.
            And I guess manually shiftable autos helps ease the pain for some of us, just enough to keep us from suicide bombing dealerships…

          • 0 avatar
            Old Man Pants

            You’re doing a great imitation of Vulpine with this topic.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          @zykotec:the main reason people want automatics is that they think manuals are somehow hard to use.

          Try driving I-95 around Boston the 17 miles between I-90 & I-93 at 4pm every day for a while and we’ll see how you feel about a manual. Most of my life I’ve driven manuals and still have a couple of them, but brutal stop and go traffic will get to you after a while.

          Also, I have an EV, so the regen gives me the engine braking effect that I like about manuals. I love the EV raw-dog transmission-free experience and the elimination of torquous-interruptus. So I suppose there is a third choice these days.

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            I have no problem understanding that people who are forced to drive in city traffic wants an automatic. But in such cases a car is by no means the most efficient or comfortable way of tranportation anyway. Most modern EV’s are so much better than any automatic shifted ICE that it’s hardly a fair comparison, and totally something I could learn to live with.

          • 0 avatar
            Old Man Pants

            “forced to drive in city traffic wants an automatic. But in such cases a car is by no means the most efficient or comfortable way of tranportation anyway.”

            Come live in one of our major cities without a car, even in a gentrified enclave.

            Merkel et al. are speedily trying to enlighten you but most Europeans still have no conception of urban hell.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Europeans have an urban hell the extent of which you cannot conceive. Do you really believe we Americans have a lock on commuter gridlock?

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            Sorry for forcing you to live in an urban hell, alongside people who have no interest in improving it.

          • 0 avatar
            Old Man Pants

            You’re doing a marvelous job with a second language so I innately respect you for that.

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            Well, thanks I guess. XD
            I just hate driving autos myself, and I honestly think that using a clutch isn’t any harder than keeping the brake pedal down all the time in stop/go traffic. And I think with basically no driver training and very few manual cars available most people never really get to choose what is easier for them to live with, people like to accept norms by default.
            Cities built in a way that make them impossible to navigate on foot, and that doesn’t have decent public transportation is a problem that we don’t face as much in Europe. As a car guy I wouldn’t want to live in a city, or even work in a city, so I tend to be a bit short on empathy for city people I guess. (I promise to improve)
            The only US city I have lived in (for two months) was New York, and if you include looking for a parking space, using a car was definitely the least efficient way of getting around.

          • 0 avatar
            Old Man Pants

            “people like to accept norms by default.”

            As JimZ said, the “norm” once *was* manual transmissions. Something easier to use came along. People voted for it with their dollars enough to make it the new norm.

            It’s not about a lack of choice; it’s about a choice we’ve already made.

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            I will admit that most automatics are easier to use than the three on the tree in an early 50’s car. I can also admit that if I was looking for a 50’s American car I would totally be ok with an automatic.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I’ve been bouncing between automatic and manual cars for my last several purchase cycles, with it being 3 to 1 in favor of the manual. Right now I’m driving a Pontiac G8 with the 6-speed auto that I hope to keep for a while. My wife’s manual Passat TDI is going away soon, and it’ll be interesting if she’ll care if her next car is manual or automatic. I still have my old truck in the backyard with the non-syncro 1st gear 4-speed so I can keep my skills sharp.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I know that a lot of people who hate manuals have never tried a good one. And vice versa. A lot of people think us guys who love manuals only do it because we enjoy driving, and that we get a better fell of the car, or think we can shift faster than an auto, but theres so much more.
    No automatic I have tried so far lets you roll your car backwards down a hill while in D. No automatic I’ve tried so far can tell me exactly when its going to start going backwards up a hill when backin into a parking space, and then it’s the constant braking all the time, everywhere. Brake to stand still, brake when going downhill, brake to change gears etc. Brake and then change from D to R when the car in frontof you needs more space, then shift back when he doesn’t, brake to downshift in a long turn that you were planning to accellerate out of, but the stupid thing upshifted because you were going at a steady speed for half a second to much etc.
    To me automatics are just a chore and a hassle, and make driving more difficult and annoying except for two little tiny things. Hill starts forwards and accellerating smoothly with a trailer (honestly not a problem with a manual if I towed the same trailer more often, but going from 1st to 2nd in a manual is usually a larger step in a manual since the 1st gear doesn’t have to be so low in an auto)
    I don’t really think they make drivng much more boring, because they tend to shift a lot more than I would normally do myself, and most of them lets me use the full range of the engine.
    As for all out performance, I never use a manual in a car game, because going forwards at full throttle is one thing an auto can do just as well, or maybe even better than me, and is something that is quite easy to teach a computer how to do.
    I should say, I don’t hate all auto’s. I’ve had a CVT moped, which was brilliant when I was a teen, and I’ve driven electric cars, which can be set to ‘engine brake’ quite realistically when regenerating. The moped offcourse didn’t have a reverse, and the electric car had parking assist.
    As for how much my 2 cents count at all since I’ve more or less promised to never waste money on a brand new car. Nah, people like me may be able to keep some enthusiasts cars second hand value high enough to make a new car buyer give a manual a chance , but the manufacturers need to make money, and I totally respect that.
    (thank you Jack, some lucky guy will be happy you bought a manual v6 coupe with your own money some day)

  • avatar
    thebanana

    Manual tranny’s are certainly not going out of favour in China, and they sell millions of vehicles a year.

  • avatar
    Manic

    In Europe 80% of new cars are manuals and Alfa and Mercedes both have new manual cars so that claim in the story is just flat wrong.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Balls, who cares?

    Just get me the f*ck to Home Depot. I need furnace filters.

  • avatar
    rcx141

    I got a very nice new Mustang V8 auto last year and was thinking of changing it for a 2017, maybe I should get a manual after all

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    As a commenter stated over at Jalopnik.

    Well, a lot of cars you can only get a manual in the base, crappy trim level, not the performance trim level so no one buys them. Then the mfr says “see, no one wants them”.

  • avatar
    Rhiadon

    Two things:

    One element in support of continuing to sell manual transmissions to to help lessen the occurrence of car jacking. I have no statistics to back this up, but I hear hilarious stories all the time of car jackers that just leave the car when they realize it’s a manual. Stated with hyperbolic spin, manufacturers that don’t sell manual transmissions want the car jackers to win.

    The second thing I want to bring up, is the idea of taste makers. Companies do this all the time. Is the reason manuals don;t sell because people don’t want them or is it because manufacturers don’t offer them and so over time, fewer and fewer get sold and eventually they are largely forgotten about so people don’t ask anymore, rinse, repeat? It’s probably not one or the other, it’s probably a little of both: people don’t want them, manufacturers don’t want to build them for many fiscal reasons. Both make me sad, because of my personal loss.

    • 0 avatar
      Funky

      You are probably correct about the “taste makers”. It is strange that the USA branches of automobile manufacturers are so bent against selling vehicles with manual transmissions. It is almost as if a bunch of recent graduates from business school decided to justify their existence to their auto manufacturing employers by (after creating a bunch of charts and graphs for their bosses) making the case that they can save their employers money by not selling manual versions of their cars here (even though the manual versions of those same cars are still designed and manufactured, and sold everywhere else in the world). Thus alienating a segment of their USA customer base.

  • avatar
    XtremeMaC

    Here is another look at this issue.
    With M/T you’re more connected to the car and the road, well car people mostly… You’re in most cases more careful and attentive to the road and what goes on around your car.
    With driving my wife’s A/T, I chat more, look around more, play with the radio and nav more, needless to say less attentive…
    and seeing how many people put on make-up, drink and eat stuff, text, etc. with A/T I’m gonna say A/T’s lead to more accidents… I guess that’s one of the reasons why companies have driving assistance stuff, radars, cameras, etc..
    Also if you’re in anyway tired and dozed off and not stepping on the gas pedal, chances are with M/T you’ll just stop on the road [yes may lead to accidents as well], but with A/T it’ll get you into a barrier..
    So yea, automated assisted driving vs manual driving is what it’ll come down to.
    Another perspective. mpg. A/T’s are more connected and if needed the gearing can be altered for higher mpg. With emissions getting stricter everyday, unfortunately, I kindda see this is where we are going, but I do strongly hope that M/T’s will live on.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I think the (few) remaining enthusiasts out there drive manual trans cars for a simple three-letter word. Fun. I realize most automatics today are more efficient, faster, etc…but I still thoroughly enjoy rowing my own gears.

    That said, at least here in America, the market has spoken. Fewer and fewer Americans have the same desire to operate both a stick and a clutch while attempting to also accelerate/brake/talk on the phone/check FB. We can moan all we want about the slow disappearance of manuals, but we’re a shiftless (mostly) society now. I’m sure a handful of do-it-yourself gearboxes will remain in various enthusiast vehicles, but it long ceased to be the “standard” transmission.

  • avatar
    Testacles Megalos

    It is neither surprising nor specifically saddening.

    Right from the start people wanted easy-to-use transport appliances to get them out of the mud and out of the village. Henry F gave it to them in a basic affordable way and it’s altered history. Cars with automatic braking, rear view televisions, in-car video entertainment centers, lane-drift corrections, PASM etc… NEED to have an indirect link between the driver and the road. Electronic steering, drive-by-wire, autoboxes, and all the driving “aids” aren’t options any more, they are current technology that allows an increasing self-absorbed population to drive. It’s all part of a societal evolution distancing existence from reality.

    It’s no country for old men.

  • avatar
    zipper69

    This whole subject reminds me of a persistent nagging thought; why are there no auto boxes on the giant motorcycle cruisers like the Honda Gold Wing? They surely have enough output and are clearly designed for smooth relaxed, long distance cruising, perfect for an auto box.

    Anybody know why ?


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