By on July 29, 2020

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

It looks like the problem isn’t the damn kids. Well, not in this instance.

The problem is us keyboard jockeys; the corpulent shrimp-eaters of the world.

Clearly, our bitching and moaning hasn’t gotten us anywhere.

It’s time to face reality, so a big thank-you goes out to Fox News Autos editor Gary Gastelu for providing a wake-up call from Fiat Chrysler passenger car boss Tim Kuniskis this morning:

Ouch.

While this writer’s heart, along with those of so many other like-minded souls, will continue to pine for a circa-1990 world where sticks abound in everything but bland family sedans (but even some of those…!), it seems unavoidable that the manual transmission’s take rate will sink below 1 percent in the U.S. this year.

bronco

Electric vehicles have already surpassed stick-shifts in popularity. At last report, the take rate was 1.1 percent and not holding. And look at what we’ve seen in just the last couple of weeks. Discontinued stick shifts everywhere. Not because cigar-chomping corporate fat cats hate the world, not because of lAte CaPitAliSm, but because, when the option is there, no one goes for it. The customer, in this case, has the last word. And automakers aren’t interested in the plaintive voice of a lone customer.

In the marketplace, consumers speak with a unified voice.

TTAC World Headquarters bunkmate Adam Tonge has done his part, though, rewarding Ford’s inclusion of a seven-speed manual in the upcoming Bronco (see image above) by putting his money where his heart is. It’s actions like this that might keep the transmission type alive in certain niches for a while yet. We’ll just have to wait and see.

[Images:  2016 Jeff Jablansky/The Truth About Cars, Ford]

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89 Comments on “The First Step Is Admitting You Have a Problem...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    “no one goes for it.”

    It would be nice if automakers would quantify what “no one” means. The Corvette had an ~20% take rate and went auto only for the C8. The GT500 had a 100% manual take rate in the prior gen and went auto only this time around.

    So what percentage or volume do they need to make it worthwhile?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      ^^THIS…

      And in the case of the GT500 I don’t believe they had a problem selling everyone they built.

      (The Corvette is a strange case – I’m starting to think that the C8 was built specifically to impress a group of people who will NEVER buy one. MID-ENGINE! DUAL CLUTCH AUTO! – guess what GM? People who care about that $hit will never be caught dead in a Chevy!)

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “What does it take to make it worthwhile”?

      Excellent question. But we’re talking about performance cars here, which is a niche.

      My guess is that the profit margins on the American performance cars that have manuals – Camaro, Mustang and Challenger – are fat enough to justify offering a stick as an option. Plus, the people who buy these cars like them to be individualized, so offering a manual makes sense. Probably the same story for small performance cars, the GTI in particular – how could VW NOT be making money on a $30,000 Golf they’re screwing together in Mexico?

      But these are niche vehicles. When it comes to the ex-manual models that we’ve lost, we’re talking about compacts and midsizers, and the margins on these cars are low to begin with, which explains why the D3 has pretty much given up on them altogether.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I’m pretty sure the margins on things like trucks and premium-brand sports sedans and Ferraris is also quite decent but those are almost all automatic-only now as well.

        I don’t think “low take rate” is a lie, but it would be good to know what “low” actually means. Otherwise it comes off as a weasel out.

        • 0 avatar
          MrIcky

          As far as trucks go, manuals are objectively less capable. I don’t see how you ever get to manuals from here on any truck that isn’t just some specialty vehicle (like a bronco truck). But I’d also say that modern auto’s are better off road too.

          I think Porsche defined the case for no manuals, but then they rescinded due to customer demand. Their PDK is just simply faster. Unless your last name is Rohrl or Haywood, a PDK is just faster and arguably safer to drive fast. But customers said “I don’t care, give me a manual” and Porsche started to relent. I’m not sure the Ferrari base is like that.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            The PDK is a fabulous transmission. If I bought a Porsche I’d want one.

            You do know you can shift it, right? All you lose is the clutch pedal.

          • 0 avatar
            MrIcky

            @FormerFF, ya I know you can manually shift them. I’m not arguing about the quality of the transmission, I just thought Porsche framed up the manual debate well.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          If the premium-brand stuff is automatic-only, then I’d say the reason why is that they’re listening to their customers. Part of it is this: I think quicker cars are easier to drive fast when they have automatics, and the units in expensive cars are typically damned brilliant.

          When I bought my A3 a couple of years ago, the runner up was a manual GTI. Both cars are VERY similar mechanically, but the A3 felt quicker (and in fact IS quicker based on instrumented tests, despite having AWD, which adds weight), and it was easier to drive fast. I can concentrate on driving, not shifting. Do I sometimes think “a manual would sure be fun in this car”? Of course. But overall, I don’r miss it all that much, particularly in the stupid traffic around here.

          YMMV, of course…

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        You have to get the manual with these cars, especially with loud, raspy factory exhausts. They sound badass going through the gears.

        You can say “Sorry about your Ferrari, dude”…

    • 0 avatar

      I think your seeing two different but related issues. In things like the Compass or and accord or civic I think it’s straight up the take rate is low.
      Then on something like the corvette or a GT500 you have an engineering problem combined with long term trends. So to use the corvette as an example it likley didn’t make financial sense too engineer around two transmissions when they take rate is steadily declining. You also have issues with how to handle higher power levels.
      You also have long term performance car trend that well everyone is going automatic only.

    • 0 avatar
      Pete Zaitcev

      It must be feasible, too. Remember that an automatic of the same size and weight can transfer more torque. Jeep ended replacing the 6sp in Wrangler between JK and JL in anticipation of new engines (although ironically enough it didn’t happen, they only offer the stick with the good old Pentastar). I suspect that with the losses GM is taking on Corvette C8, they could have swallowed a bespoke manual too, but it’s not for sure.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      Because for GM engineers it is all about performance and not about the experience. If the manual is .5 seconds slower around a track it has no purpose in their eyes, same as going mid-engine. Performance at the cost of everything else.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        The Corvette engineers stated that the take rate was not worth it to design a new manual transmission for the ME car. The C7 started with about a 40% take rate but that steadily eroded to about 20%. I can’t help but wonder if part of that is because dealers – even big ones like Kerbek, buy mostly automatics for stock because they sell to a larger percentage of the marketplace. Americans, who are accustomed to immediate gratification, might decide to take that shiny new C7 with an automatic because it had everything else they wanted. Sure you could order a car (like I did) and wait 12 weeks and pay more. Dealers like Kerbek typically offered better pricing if you bought from inventory.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    As I’ve written on here many times, back in the 80s the US military realized that few recruits knew how to drive manuals, it wasn’t worth the time to train them, and new programs going forward were automatics. That was nearly 40 years ago.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    instead of “cancel america” activism, we should get people active to teach others manual driving. volunteers to teach 1 person per month. Make it a national movement. we in america got used to this – someone else will take care of this, I’ve got my things to do. As result, we’re losing not only manuals but the entire country

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      You going to provide your own personal car, to a total stranger, and let them drive your manual car. Who’s paying for it when a clutch ultimately takes a dump?

    • 0 avatar
      Old_WRX

      @slavuta,

      The only way the y’s and z’s would ever touch a gear shift lever would be if you could text/tweet/snap chat or some other related idiocy with it. Electronic junk rules!

      Manual transmissions are probably racist, too.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        My teenage daughter has been asking me to find a manual equipped car and teach her how to drive it. I Turoed a MX5 and we are doing it this weekend. I guarantee I will not let her hurt the clutch.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          I’d start with the hill exercise. You can control the handbrake (from the passenger side) if it’s console mounted, so it doesn’t roll back (too much). Or set it on the 1st or 2nd click.

          Get moving (uphill), stop, get moving, stop, etc.

          It’s mostly about getting the “foot mechanics” down, clutch in, brake to gas in one motion. The rest is easy, can be practiced parked, engine off, alone, etc. before on road.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            That sounds like a way to wind up with a frustrated daughter and a worn clutch. What we will do is go to a flat parking lot. The first thing I want her to learn is the “catch point”, the point where the clutch first starts engaging the engine. Once she can do that consistently, the next thing to do is to bring the engine up to slightly above idle, maybe 1200 rpm. Third step in this exercise is to slowly let the clutch out and get underway. Once we have that down the rest is easy.

            My guess is that she will stall it twice, and then get it figured out. No harm will be done to the clutch at those low engine speeds and throttle openings.

            What destroys clutches is aggressive slipping.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            I taught my niece exactly this way, and she was driving the manual like a pro in a little over an hour.

            We spent just around 20 minutes on the hill, and maybe the clutch got a little warm before she got it. It was a CRX.

            I think you underestimate your daughter, but you have to teach the hill, of course not too steep. Or are you going to turn her loose, not knowing them, and while she just avoid hills? Or lives in fear of them?

            I forget when they started adding hill-assist to manuals, where it holds the brakes for a couple seconds or until there’s forward (uphill) motion?

            I don’t like the hill-assist. I like to roll back into parking spots, out of one, 3-point turns, etc.

            But if you’re going to teach the hill, you might as well start there, no doubt after some basic (classroom) training, getting the motor skills down, sequence of events, tips, etc.

    • 0 avatar

      Slavuta, how you did not hear about “Cancel ICE” movement? It is spreading over the world like wildfire.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I remember a few years ago seeing an article about the Top 10 US cities ranked by percentage of people buying new cars with manual transmissions. I recall that Albuquerque was in that Top 10. What would be interesting to me is to see a breakdown of what people bought in those cities by model and even trim level. As an example the Mazda 3 did offer the manual on multiple trim levels at one point. Were those people in the high manual take rate cities buying no frills models or decently optioned models?

    I was idly playing with AutoTrader last night and went looking for VW GLIs within 300 miles of me. There were also a fair number of manual transmission models. But once I filtered for things like premium audio or heated seats those numbers shrank quickly.

    I’ve looked at 2020 Camaro LT1 V8s (the cheapest V8 Camaro) and the dealers that have them are carrying them with almost no options. Sorry guys I want a manual AND the BOSE stereo.

    I can find Challenger R/T models with manual trans online as well but largely with only the smallest U-Connect system.

    If only enthusiasts are buying manuals than it stands to reason that manufacturers and dealers should stock them with a decent level of equipment, not just price leader “strippers”.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Interesting article – I looked it up. Interestingly enough, it was only for used cars bought at Carmax. Basically, I’d say it means that anywhere from 2-6% of cars sold were manuals. Call it 4% nationwide. And I bet that a large percentage of these manuals were base-model compacts that automakers tend to lose money on anyway.

      Yeah, it makes sense that automakers don’t cater to this market anymore.

      (I guess you could custom-order a Camaro or Challenger the way you want, BTW)

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Back in the day when I sold Hyundais, a new 3 door Hyundai Accent base stick shift came to the dealer with a -$4 profit on the invoice. Yes, the dealer was losing $4 just to bring the car onto the lot.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @dwford – there’s more than a little irony in that given that those old 3-door Accents had a short throw B&M shifter offered in the Hyundai parts catalog. That was definitely aiming at the “drive a slow car fast” crowd.

        • 0 avatar
          dwford

          So true, lol. Who is the person that took their $10k Accent in to the dealer to get that B&M shifter kit???

          • 0 avatar
            ravenchris

            I paid the dealer to install the B&M shifter in my Sonata. Transaxle fluid replaced with Red Line
            MTL also.
            I heard Hyundai sales people were getting $1000
            bonus for selling Sonata at one time.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “I’ve looked at 2020 Camaro LT1 V8s (the cheapest V8 Camaro) and the dealers that have them are carrying them with almost no options. Sorry guys I want a manual AND the BOSE stereo.”

      Time for a vacation.

      ashevillechevrolet.com/VehicleDetails/new-2020-Chevrolet-Camaro-2dr_Coupe_LT1-Asheville-NC/4612343233

  • avatar
    jmo

    I figure there are two issues with auto reviewers.

    1. Peer pressure: While you may love a nice comfy car with full range cruise control as your daily driver, you can’t very well say that out loud. You’ll get $hit from your peers.

    2. Review bias: To review something is quite a bit different than committing to live with it for 3, 5, even 15 years. A GT3 with no sound insulation and an ultra stiff suspension may be fun on a cool fall day. It’s not going to be very fun after 5 years of boom, bang, clunk as every imperfection in the pavement echos through the interior.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    It’s one more reason to buy used classics, keep what you have, customize, resto-mod, pocket the saving, invest, dump it into a hobby, or the obvious Hot Rod Cherokee, Miata, Fiero, Mini Truck, motorbikes, side by side or other.

    It’s a fast growing trend, even if it can’t be reported on here.

    The person you put out of a job is probably in China. Yes this means more work, cash flow for the local guys. And you can chose where the parts/stuff/goods are made.

    It’s not the loss of manuals that’s necessarily the issue. It’s the general corporate greed, getting treated like we don’t matter, especially after the sale, and marginalizing of consumer wants, needs and expectations.

    It’s the tail wagging the dog. We’re supposed to call the shots.

    If you have to buy new, get the base model or loss leader and tell them where to stick it on the rest.

    Then enjoy the vast aftermarket. They probably won’t treat you with disrespect.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I cannot change the whole world, but I can influence the people around me.
    When my kids were in college and required a vehicle, I purchased a base Toyota Tercel manual. Their next vehicle was also a base Chevy Tracker manual.

    That way, I made sure that they learned how to drive manuals. They are now grown up and married, and they can purchase themselves whatever they want to drive, but I have done my two cents worth.

  • avatar
    Funky D

    I’ve already resigned myself that the next new car I buy (be it Challenger or Mustang) will pretty much be the final one with a manual transmission. I’m going to drive it until retirement (<15 yrs), so by then, I'll be too old to clutch one … LOL!

  • avatar

    I went for many years REFUSING to own ANY automatic transmission vehicle.

    HOWEVER…the advantages of a stick shift have evaporated as automatic transmission technology has surpassed it.

    Modern automatics out-accelerate and provide fuel mileage on par with, if not better than, their standard-shift counterparts with less driveline wear and engine braking due to the locking torque converter, AND HAVE FOR DECADES.

    It’s gotten so even small cars run fine with an automatic, so most drivers don’t even miss the stick.

    Yeah, I miss the days of rowing my own but for me it’s all about performance and in 2020, automatics do that better.

    • 0 avatar
      volvo

      Budda
      You said what I was thinking. Modern automatics outperform manuals by almost any metric.
      As for performance Formula 1 cars are automatic and have been for 20 years. The reason is you couldn’t win with a manual. Manual in those cars = slower times and blown engines.
      Some wit said that racing a car with a manual transmission is like running a foot race in clogs.

      • 0 avatar
        stuntmonkey

        Almost but not quite. F1 only allows for 8 forwards gears, but semi automatic transmission. In it’s first year the semi automatic flappy paddle (Ferrari Type 640) was hugely unreliable but was obviously faster at starts and won on the twistiest circuit at Hungary. A few years after that, CVT transmissions were banned from the technical regs, because they would have been too much of a perfect thing at a time when F1 was strugglingeith drivers aids like and and traction control.

      • 0 avatar
        stuntmonkey

        Almost but not quite. F1 only allows for 8 forwards gears, but semi automatic transmission. In it’s first year the semi automatic flappy paddle (Ferrari Type 640) was hugely unreliable but was obviously faster at starts and won on the twistiest circuit at Hungary. A few years after that, CVT transmissions were banned from the technical regs, because they would have been too much of a perfect thing at a time when F1 was struggling with drivers aids like and and traction control.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Those are all weak, silly reasons for the automatic. If you’re not a stick shift enthusiast, that’s fine, call it what is, but even for heavy traffic congestion, it’s a great to be included in the “drive”.

        If you’d rather drive the manual when you don’t have to change gears (or neutral) much, like the open desert, middle of nowhere, you many not be a fan.

        But for boring-ass cars/appliances on long commutes with lots of stop-n-go, a (3-pedal) manual trans would be the only thing to keep me from going certifiably insane.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Automatic transmissions have gotten really good in the past 15 or so years.
    It used to be that manuals were superior to automatics in performance and fuel efficiency. No more.
    Every car I ever owned was a manual until I got a 2016 Prius. Its dash display showing what the system is doing demonstrates that there is no way manual control of its multiple simultaneous operations is even possible. The system is making decisions by the second.
    It appears to me that there really is no functional argument to be made for a manual except for one thing, FUN! It is still fun to take out the old 1990 Laser Turbo and row the gears. If I were wealthier, I’d have a Miata, just for fun.

    • 0 avatar
      snorlax

      The biggest remaining advantage (besides theft resistance, holding the gear you want and fun) of manual transmissions is maintenance costs and long term reliability. There aren’t many 30-year-old automatic-equipped Diamond-Star Motors products still on the road.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Well yeah, anyone would go to way more trouble/expense to save a manual classic/sporty/turbo/awd/etc from the crusher even if it wasn’t the auto trans that failed/took it off the road.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        dude, just stop.

        When you’re down to “well, manuals are better because you can hold the gear you want!” it’s clear you’re struggling, grasping at straws.

        I can hold the gear I want just fine in my GTI w/DSG. Shoot, I could have done that in my father’s 2008 MDX, for that matter.

        Why not just go straight to “well, with a manual you can make the car go forward!” and drop any pretense of rationality.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          Some people just prefer a manual. It is our money after all, so we buy them while we can. It isn’t rational, it is preference.

          If we are talking long term reliability though, yeah I’ll put my TREMEC T6060 against a VW DSG any day of the week. Not to take away from them, I am a fan of the auto GTI, but frankly preference is reason enough but there are other reasons people make that choice though they are dwindling.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I accept defeat. Traffic in urban areas is now so bad, practically 24/7 that driving a stick becomes frustrating.

    The auto transmissions in most new vehicles will outperform an MT driven by an average driver.

    Auto transmissions are generally (not all) robust enough to last the lifespan of the vehicle, if they receive required maintenance and are not abused.

    MTs in base/stripper cars are probably no longer more cost effective for the manufacturer if manufactured to N.A specs.

    And the trend seems to be away from ICE vehicles.

    Thankfully I still have an MT in the driveway, however it will probably be gone by the fall. But my kids have had the opportunity to practice on one. And in my retirement I hope to buy an MT Miata or Corvette. With the anticipation that I will pay less for one than for an AT.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I agree – my last car was a manual, and it was a pain in stop-and-go traffic. My current car has an excellent DCT with a “tiptronic” function, so I don’t miss the manual much at all.

      It used to be that a manual was key to making “affordable” cars quicker, but with the advent of more advanced automatic transmissions, that’s not really the case anymore.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    If I am an automaker, the real question isn’t “how many people currently buy the manual?”, it is “If we kill the manual, how many of those buyers will not buy the car or something else on our lot?” That number is likely close to zero with respect to crossovers, Accords and mainline family haulers. They just buy the auto that 99 percent already buy,

    With cars like the Jeep and Bronco and the Pony Cars, manual sales are still statistically significant and those buyers would go elsewhere for now. But eventually one will drop it and the other won’t be far behind.

    Bottom line, many of the relatively small number of manual sales would not be lost should they kill it…they will b!+ch and moan and buy an automatic version of the same car. Automakers don’t care, so long as you write the check, which you will.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      Jeep, Bronco, and Pony Cars though have a couple other things going for them that will help keep the manual around. 1st) front engine rear drive – which means off the shelf products are available. So if customers really want them, sure they can pay whatever surcharge for the manufacturer to order a few from gertrag or tremec. The engineering hit should be small really. 2nd) they aren’t expected to tow much so they don’t have to get overly worried about heat management in the transmission, etc.

      I see these kind of cars being around for a while with a manual just because it’s relatively easier. Much easier than having to engineer a transmission for a front driver, etc.

  • avatar

    I put my money where my mouth is two years ago when I bought my new 2018 Mazda 3 Grand Touring hatchback with a manual. I don’t regret it one bit but I’m only one person who can only afford one car so unless I can scoop up an MX-5 in the next few years, it will probably be my last new manual.

    But proof that the market is dwindling and has been: my car landed on the dealer’s lot in August, 2017 and sat there until I bought it in June, 2018. It had 17 miles on it which means maybe one person test drove it in all that time.

  • avatar
    MeJ

    Maybe we just have to face the reality that manuals are going the way of the dinosaur along with ICE powered cars. I love a manual as much as anyone but the world is changing fast and EV’s are here to stay. While I love driving my sports car I already think about how cool a Taycan S or Tesla’s new sports car model (0-60 in 1.9 seconds??? WTF???) would be be to own.
    Adapt or die.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      EV marketshare (which includes ICE using PHEVs) was about 1.9% last year. So ICE isn’t *nearly* as endangered as manual transmissions. Plus, currently just one company is managing to sell BEVs that aren’t in niche volumes.

      insideevs.com/news/393629/us-plugin-sales-charted-2019/

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      What is the number of manual transmission cars sold globally vs EV’s?

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        According to this place global EV marketshare (which again includes PHEVs) was 2.5%.
        ev-volumes.com/

        This article posted in April 2020 says manual transmissions have a worldwide market share of 37%.
        insidehook.com/article/vehicles/which-cars-still-have-manual-transmissions

        I’m not sure on the veracity of either of those sources but I’d be surprised if EVs are outpacing manuals at this time.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    In the circle of just my neighbors:

    Owner of a Honda Fit. He got a manual – his words: more fun! – while his wife, who also drives a Fit, got the automatic since she doesn’t care about cars at all.

    Another neighbor bought a Subaru Outback with a manual. His wife drives the family hauler, a Chrysler Pacifica.

    My neighbor with a minty BMW 335i with an automatic also has a 1994 (?) Mazda RX-7 turbo project car with a manual.

    And I have a 2014 Mustang V6 with the MT82 manual (which has been pretty good actually). My wife has taken over this car while I’ve been driving the automatic Infiniti M35x.

    The 5-speed auto in the M35x is actually half-decent and only gets caught out of sorts once in awhile. You know that feeling, push the gas down hard and it pauses for a moment before downshifting. Sometimes it doesn’t downshift (at all or enough) and you just buzz forward in a slightly faster motion than before.

    I put a reservation in on a new Bronco. I’m planning on living with the smaller 2.3L engine just to have the manual. Sure the automatic and the 2.7L would be faster but I don’t think of the Bronco in terms of 0-60 or quarter mile performance. It would be more of a top and doors off cruiser that I could enjoy even more with a clutch. (as long as my left knee lasts!)

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    My household consists of a VW GTI, MINI Cooper, and F-150 all with manual transmissions. I realize the die is cast and the MK8 GTI I buy will likely be the last manual transmission car I get. Disappointing but not much that complaining about it will do.

  • avatar
    saturnotaku

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!11

    This absolutely made my week.

    | TTAC World Headquarters bunkmate Adam Tonge has done his part, though, rewarding Ford’s inclusion of a seven-speed manual in the upcoming Bronco (see image above) by putting his money where his heart is.

    Well, that makes one of you.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I like manual shift in smaller sporty cars. SUVs and trucks, I don’t really see the point.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    “It’s not the loss of manuals that’s necessarily the issue. It’s the general corporate greed, getting treated like we don’t matter, especially after the sale, and marginalizing of consumer wants, needs and expectations.”

    Thank you I could not have said it any better and I am in total agreement.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Jack Baruth has an article years ago pointing out that we, the end consumer were NOT the clients of the auto manufactures. The dealerships are the clients of the auto makers. Dealerships buy what they can sell to the most amount of people. That means automatics, and grays, slivers, whites, black colours and middle of the road options are what they order so that’s what car companies build.
    I would have preferred a stick in my F150 but there isn’t a 1/2 ton made with a manual. Ram HD is the only remaining holdout with a Cummins and manual but that truck has such pitifully low ratings that almost nobody buys it.

    • 0 avatar
      gasser

      I agree with the idea that the “customer” of the factory is the dealer. My nephew bought a stick shift higher trim Accord about 15 years ago and it took months to find the trim and color he wanted with a stick. As a driver in my 70s, I learned to drive a stick as a youth, as MOST cars then were sticks. But off course the autos were 2 and 3 speed and got much worse mileage than a manual transmission. Also, 50 years ago, the traffic here is Los Angeles was a lot lighter and I could actually DRIVE a stick on the freeway. Now its a bumper to bumper crawl at all hours. Also as to the “engagement” of driving a stick. How much engagement is left with BSM, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist and even auto parking???? Time to give it up and go full on 8-10 speed automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Dealers are a huge part of the problem. It’s far safer to only stock automatic Accords or whatever, since 100% of shoppers can drive them, and it’s far easier to sway strict manual buyers, than those that can’t drive a manual, nor their spouse, etc.

      If it’s not a sports/sporty car, who’s gonna go on a full on quest for a manual (except for me)?

      Plus they still get more money for automatics.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Other then 2 door vs 4 door trucks and engines choice (4 vs 6 cylinder) you will not find a more polarizing choice then the MT vs AT option when it comes to a potential buyer. Those that get autos would not take a manual if you gave it to them for free. On the flip-side someone who wants a manual would in no way accept an auto. Contrast this against something like paint color or interior trim where people are way more flexible. So for a dealer (or OEM) why bother with an option that immediately eliminates 98% of your customers?

    Plus from a service and support side who wants to deal with a configuration you’ll only see once in a blue moon?

    I’ve been driving manuals for over 30 years and have come to the very sad conclusion that my current C7 is likely my last row-your-own vehicle.

  • avatar
    Old_WRX

    In any sporty vehicle my choice would be manual with the pedals properly set up for heel/toe, a good clutch (judder free) and slick shift linkage. I know the AT is faster, etc, but I don’t care. One downside to modern electronic engine controls, and drive by wire is that engine revs aren’t as easily controlled by the driver. This makes heel/toe a lottery some times.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If more people ordered cars in purple, mfrs would offer more cars in purple. But consumers mostly buy what’s on the lot, don’t order anything special, and so we get the sea of limited colors on the roads.

    Same goes for manuals, but they’re accompanied by a decade of support the mfr should offer, plus training the techs on them, plus (now) lower EPA ratings, unique ECU software, and low resale value due to the limited market for them.

    Bottom line – manuals are poison to the mfrs, dealers, and the used car market.

    Lots of people here are suggesting teaching their kids how to drive a stick, but what’s the point? There aren’t that many manuals left on the road.

  • avatar
    Gedrven

    “Automatics perform better.” You know what else performs better? A professional driver. If you’re buying cars by the pound, to fulfill some performance metric rather than to simply enjoy, then why stop at delegating a quarter of the driving to something that outperforms you (as a transmission controller)? Why not delegate it all and hire a driver? You’ll set faster laptimes, which is clearly what matters most.

    The only reason manual models get worse fuel economy than a discrete-gear automatic (not CVT) is if they’re geared shorter. Unfortunately, this is often the case – apparently it’s considered “sporty” to row through all the gears by the time you’re doing 40mph, and in a moderate cruise be stuck with a final ratio over 3.0, screaming the engine in what should be 3rd or 4th. Meanwhile the automatic version has a more even and wider gear spread, not to mention often more gears, topping out not much over (sometimes even under) 2.0 final ratio. Then people point to it and go, “See? Automatics get better economy.” and tacitly lump manuals into the same wasteful obsolete bad-old-days technology that only a luddite dinosaur would want. Thus car culture develops to squeeze manuals further and further out of mainstream circulation.

  • avatar
    Hogey74

    This coming issue changed my purchasing habits. Instead of upgrading my old Subaru, which is now auto only, I kept it and bought an old MX5 as well. I worked out that losing some modern refinement and drivers aids was worth it to save a lot and to drive manuals while they’re easily available in Australia. And it was quite a moment to realize my next purchase might be an EV. So the MX5 is on it’s second engine and the old Sube will get upgrades as required over the next few years. I agree that there will be a cascade into EVs. It makes sense. For the foreseeable future I’ll be driving two manuals and pocketing thousands a year. Good timing for that too.

    Oh and this is only a rich countries thing. In India, Nepal etc it’s all manuals. We might end up buying batches of manuals from emerging markets in future I reckon.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    Well, for those of us who have family overseas, it isn’t a bad idea to know or teach the kids/spouses how to drive a manual. Fifteen years ago, automatic cars were as rare in Eastern Europe as manual cars are in USA. Even now, automatics probably only make up about 10% of the market there. My wife doesn’t know how to drive her father’s 6 speed manual Hyundai when we go visit. I am always the one who drives, which doesn’t bother me any, but if she goes by herself..
    I am not sure if it is still done but until not too long ago, European rental car companies charged tourists considerably more for an automatic.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Between my daughter’s college and me there is a freeway/interstate “mountain” (several miles of 4-6% grade). If you downshift properly [manual or automatic] you can get through the descent with a few taps of the brakes in the curves – no riding of your brakes necessary.

    On my last trip through there I was watching carefully on the descent for any sign of driving skill left in the American motoring public. Hope rose in my chest as a Mustang went past – Mustang in the left lane certainly equals driving enthusiast, and might [30% chance maybe?] mean an enthusiast with a manual transmission – in which case I *certainly* won’t see prolonged brake lights – right?

    Wrong. Hopes dashed.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      It depends. Would you rather put the wear on the brakes or drivetrain? If you’re experiencing “brake fade”, yeah I get it.

      A Mustang probably has performance brakes. Or overkill, depending on model. I dated a girl that would downshift a Mazda PU every time, every slowdown, flatland, no matter.

      So I had to ask. She said that’s how her mother taught her to drive since that’s how SHE was taught. I said “Yeah back then brakes were still optional on cars”…

      Brake jobs for me are crazy cheap since I do my own. No one’s going to tell me the rotors are out of spec (every time) or needs new fluid.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        Possibly related (possibly not):
        https://tinyurl.com/jake-brake-engine-wear

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Semi truck brakes are designed (or under-designed) to work together with the jakes and downshifting.

          In other words, big truck drivetrain wear is irrelevant since you crash and burn otherwise. So you always save the brakes.

  • avatar
    d27XHy5HG

    Problem is not all of the new safety or convenience features work with a manual. Also the weird pairings of manuals and trim levels. I would want a manual in the highest trim level.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    If automakers are thinking “long money”, automatics will send cars to the crusher much sooner than manuals. I’m sure they are. Pay now AND pay later..

    Even the best automatics will need a rebuild twice in the life of the engine. Except it’ll probably “total” the car after its 10th year. Or the dealer/OEM will make a juicy $7K sale (plus install).

    The days of the $350 trans rebuild are long gone.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    It would be interesting if manufacturers offered a survey to customers who did not buy their wares. I confess this isn’t my idea, and I won’t pretend to take credit for it. I’m not sure logistically how it would work, but it would provide more data for the manufacturers. Currently, they only know what you bought and can’t see into the decision process and are seeing at best half the picture.

    Case in point, last year I was searching for a vehicle the was manual, AWD, a color other than black, white or silver, and had heated seats and a sunroof. I could get almost there with an Impreza, but once the sunroof was added, the manual went away in favor of Subaru’s lineartronic CVT. I wasn’t at all interested in a CVT and walked.

    I went to a Jeep dealer to look at a Compass. I could have gotten there, but the nearest vehicle the met the requirements was over $700 miles away. They kept asking if I wanted to test drive the auto and I wasn’t interested because the auto would by definition behave differently. At the time I wasn’t yet sure if I was going to take the plunge and didn’t think it fair to have the dealer transfer a vehicle 700 miles just so I could maybe buy it.

    I could get all the way there with a WRX, and test drove one, but the numbers didn’t work for me at the time.

    Long story short, and I know this is sacrilege, the kit was more important than the transmission in that equation. Also, since my driveway is three cars long and one wide, it’s easier for me if I wind up going somewhere and don’t take my car. My mom is able to move my car if needed to get hers out. This is something she was not comfortable with when I had a manual. I’d have to pre-plan everything, even if I was only going out for a couple hours with friends.

    I expect I’ll have a manual again some day, but my next goal is finding a house. Cars are real low on my pressing priority list. That’s not to say if a Challenger dropped in my lap I wouldn’t take it. :)

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    What is the take rate on Wrangler? I think it was 10..11% in the JK generation. What about JL?

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Keep has declined to provide that information. Looking at inventory on the ground, for the Wrangled Unlimited and Gladiator, it’s around 2 or 3 percent. For th 2 door Wrangled, it about a third, but of a very small number, like 3 percent of the total Wrangled Unlimited inventory.

      In other words, really low.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Technically speaking, yes..it’s probably true that automatics provide faster acceleration and better fuel economy. But the take rate decline for manuals in the US comes down to something much less complex. We just don’t want to be bothered by shifting anymore.
    I’m glad that when I moved to Germany earlier this year that finding a manual transmission vehicle was super-easy. And when I go to replace the car I bought (2012 MB B180), I’m sure it’ll be just as easy to find another manual transmission.

  • avatar
    focal

    Finally caved and got an automatic after 31 years. It was an EV. I will continue to cling onto my manual 3 series and Cayman GT4.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    The manual shift lever is going the way of the lever that was on the steering column to adjust the “spark timing”.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    For the first time in 35 years I do not have a manual in any of my fleet of vehicles but that is just the way things are in a car market where it is harder to find one in a new or used vehicle especially if you want to get a vehicle made in the past decade. Many of the manual trucks that I looked at before I bought my 2008 Ranger (only 101k miles) were 20 years or more, had over 200k miles, had significant rust, and worn out and torn interiors. I decided it was better to get a newer lower mileage truck with little rust, good interior, and cold air conditioning for the same or slightly higher price. I miss my manual trucks but since I needed a newer truck and something that was not my main vehicle then I would compromise on the transmission since the rest of the truck met my needs. Even compromised and bought a white regular cab truck because I didn’t want a crew cab and I wanted something as close as I could get to a compact truck. Using the
    Ranger to haul things was my main objective and putting 2k to 3k miles a year on it made more sense to buy a used lower mileage truck.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    It’s the American public that wants less driver involvement, not more. They don’t want cars that they have to actually drive, they are fascinated by cars that drive themselves.

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