How Common Are Manual Transmissions in 2020?

Posted on by Defensive Driving | in Defensive Driving Tips

 

Stick Shift AKA manual transmissions are becoming a thing of the past. Just 10 years ago nearly 40% of the cars in the United States were offered with a manual transmission option. In 2020 less than 15% of vehicles are even offered with manual transmissions, and they account for just 2% of all vehicles sold. Learning or knowing how to drive stick is becoming an increasingly rare skill for new drivers in the US.

The last few decades have seen significant decreases in both the availability and the desire for manual transmissions. Back in the olden days, manual transmissions were the first and original choice. It was actually up until the 1970s that automatic transmissions overtook stick, and represented the majority of the cars on the road in the US. Very simply, automatic transmissions are more convenient and were seen initially as a luxury feature that quickly became to standard choice.

Automatic transmissions started to gain traction as a luxury feature quickly in the United States though, and quickly overtook manual transmissions in the 80s. In 2020 less than 5% of all cars sold were equipped with manual transmissions. At this point there are predominantly two reasons left for manual transmissions.
stick shift

Cost is a major factor. Manual transmissions are a traditionally less expensive option. Some manufacturers have continued to make manual transmissions and manual windows for the lowest end of their vehicle trims, especially commercial fleet vehicles that aim to minimize options and cost for companies buying in bulk.

Sports cars have also kept a manual transmission option in many models. Up until very recently a manual transmission was an available option in sporty vehicles like Mustangs and Corvettes because the manual transmission was not only slightly faster when driven well, but also played into the nostalgia of early American muscle cars. In the early 2000s though, dual clutch automatic transmissions have actually surpassed the performance of manual transmissions through new technology that allows for the simulation of all the positive elements of the manual transmission without having to commit to 100% of your driving being manual. Other solutions like paddle shifters and Tiptronic provide the thrill of manually shifting again without requiring it to be active at all times.

There’s have even been studies that manual transmissions keep drivers more attentive and aware of their surroundings since it requires active attention to drive.

The current generation of Americans won’t learn how to drive stick, and numbers of vehicles with it included will continue to dwindle. If you want to have the ultimate anti-theft device, buy a vehicle with a manual transmission. It’s impossible to have a car stolen by someone who can’t put it into gear to drive away.

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