The First Step Is Admitting You Have a Problem

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
the first step is admitting you have a problem

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

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.

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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  • 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.

  • Jim Bonham Thanks.
  • Luke42 I just bought a 3-row Tesla Model Y.If Toyota made a similar vehicle, I would have bought that instead. I'm former Prius owner, and would have bought a Prius-like EV if it were available.Toyota hasn't tried to compete with the Model Y. GM made the Bolt EUV, and Ford made the Mach-E. Tesla beat them all fair and square, but Toyota didn't even try.[Shrug]
  • RHD Toyota is trying to hedge their bets, and have something for everyone. They also may be farther behind in developing electric vehicles than they care to admit. Japanese corporations sometimes come up with cutting-edge products, such as the Sony Walkman. Large corporations (and not just Japanese corporations) tend to be like GM, though - too many voices just don't get heard, to the long-term detriment of the entity.
  • Randy in rocklin The Japanese can be so smart and yet so dumb. I'm America-Japanese and they really can be dumb sometimes like their masking paranoia.
  • Bunkie The Flying Flea has a fascinating story and served, inadvertently, to broaden the understanding of aircraft design. The crash described in the article is only part of the tale.
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