#StickNation Update: News You Probably Won't Be Able to Use

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
sticknation update news you probably won t be able to use

I have no idea whether that’s a real group or hashtag or not. Frankly, I don’t care to find out.

Unbeknownst to yours truly, yesterday happened to be National Stick Shift Day, which is an event my fair city did not mark by raising a symbolic flag over city hall (the bike lobby must be baked into that council chamber). Had I known, I’d have driven my discontinued manual sedan with extra gusto.

As you read earlier today, Honda poured cold water on the morning-after glow by announcing the scrapping of the manual-transmission Accord for 2021, not that you ever considered buying one. The stick scarcity grows. So who’s driving them these days? Who even knows how to drive one?

According to a survey of 500 “people” by Cars.com, presumably of wildly varying ages, a few people are still able to make headway if handed the keys to a three-pedal vehicle.

While the methodology behind a tweet are difficult to ascertain, and the total surveyed is a quarter of the sum we’d prefer, these findings are merely meant to be taken as an amusing aside. Everyone likes a distraction.

When asked whether they knew how to drive a manual transmission, 84 percent of men and 60 percent of women said yes. Frankly, this crowd must have included a great deal of older people, unless I’m somehow wildly out of touch with the under-30 demographic’s lived experience. Okay then.

For those who currently own a stick-shift vehicle, by far the largest slice of the people pie (23 percent) said BMW was their brand, followed far behind by Toyota (11 percent) and Honda (9 percent), with Ford and Audi owners making up 6 percent each.

If the survey’s representative of the broader population, and on this score it would seem to be, the largest cohort of those who know how to row their own learned the practice between the ages of 16 and 18 (34 percent). Your author falls into that camp, as he bailed on his high school graduation ceremony to go used car hunting at various sketchy lots — the kind where tires have already started rotting and each wheezy engine seems to contain either rainwater or squirrels.

Interestingly, 12 percent claimed to be 15 or younger, which implies a good (read: fun) childhood. After the 19-22 crowd (18 percent), the next largest slice was those claiming to be over 40 when they learned how to operate that third pedal.

Asked how they learned, 37 percent of respondents said they were taught by their dad (thanks, dad), with moms accounting for 7 percent of the stick-shift tutorials. Friends (21 percent) and driving instructors (17 percent) did their part, but it was the self-taught crowd (21 percent) who probably have the best stories to tell. Yours truly purchased his first car, a manual, without knowing how to drive it, so I offer many thanks to my departed father for providing instructions on the way out of the lot.

There’s not much we can control these days, but a clutch pedal and shift lever are at least among the things that bend to our will. It’s good to be king.

[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC]

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  • Snakebit Snakebit on Jul 21, 2020

    Save for two cars I owned('56 Bel Air and '69 Datsun 510 wagon)every other car I owned up until Oct 2017 was a stick, the last one being an E46 BMW Coupe with a five speed that several of my shotgun occupants thought was an urban myth until they rode in it. Since then, my spouse drives a new RAV4 autobox which we share for commutes over the Sierras to Sacramento, and I picked up a nice '68 Cougar with Select-Shift Merc-O-Matic for local drives 'cause I couldn't fathom getting a four-speed one, otherwise I'd have gotten the lighter and slightly smaller Mustang. Who knows-there might be another manual gearbox ride as an interesting and pre-owned thing-maybe a clean S2000.

  • Pig_Iron Pig_Iron on Jul 22, 2020

    Don't shift for me. >:-O https://tinyurl.com/y3buybwo

  • MrIcky Its going to sell really well for a little bit, then everyone who wanted one will have one and it will sell almost nothing ever again-primarily well to do flower shop delivery vehicles after that first wave.
  • MaintenanceCosts It will have an initial period of, well, buzz because of the Type 2 nostalgia.Whether it has legs beyond that period will depend on whether VW can get competitive on two things: (1) electric powertrain efficiency, where their products have been laggards so far (hurting range badly), and (2) software. The packaging looks good and will help, but they need to get those other things right too.
  • Oberkanone Priced too high though not by much.
  • FreedMike Looks VERY niche to me. But that's not necessarily a bad thing - this might serve nicely as a kind of halo model for VW.
  • SPPPP Point: It's the only EV minivan around. Counterpoint: It's too expensive for a minivan, heavy, ugly, and has bad ergonomics. To me, a PHEV like the Sienna or Pacifica seems like a more sensible solution.