The First Step Is Admitting You Have a Problem

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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:

Harsh reality from Tim Kuniskis today:

You know who always asks me about manual transmissions: journalists.

You know who never does: customers

— Gary Gastelu (@garygastelu) July 28, 2020


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.

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Jul 30, 2020

    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.

  • Namesakeone Namesakeone on Jul 31, 2020

    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.

  • Lynchenstein @EBFlex - All ICEs are zero-emission until you start them up. Except my mom's old 95 Accord, that used to emit oil onto the ground quite a lot.
  • Charles The UAW makes me the opposite of patriotic
  • El scotto Wranglers are like good work boots, you can't make them any better. Rugged four wheel drive vehicles which ironically make great urban vehicles. Wagoneers were like handbags desired by affluent women. They've gone out of vogue. I can a Belgian company selling Jeep and Ram Trucks to a Chinese company.
  • El scotto So now would be a good time to buy an EV as a commuter car?
  • ToolGuy $1 billion / 333.3 million = $3 per U.S. person ¶ And what do I get for my 3 bucks -- cleaner air and lower fuel prices? I might be ok with this 🙂🙂