Is The Death Knell Sounding For The Manual Transmission?

manual vs automatic

There was once a time where automatic and manual cars were on an even footing when it came to sales figures. These days there is only one true leader: the automatic car. For years, the sale of manual vehicles has been declining.

In North America alone, manuals account for a tiny percentage of all cars used each day. Now, you might be thinking that places like Europe are full of manuals. Yet, even over there more people are opting for automatic cars!

Is the death knell sounding for the trusty old stick shift? It would seem so.

People spend too much time in traffic

Have you ever counted how many times you go in and out of gear in a manual while stuck in traffic? If you haven’t, let me tell you the answer: it’s a lot!

As you can imagine, driving a manual when you spend a lot of time in traffic is a real pain. That’s both in a metaphorical and physical sense! You might not realize it, but frequent gear changes can cause knee problems in later life.

When you drive an automatic, you don’t have to worry about changing gears because the car does it for you. Your left knee can also have a rest!

People want better gas mileage

Fuel economy is a hot topic for today’s motorists. They don’t want to buy gas guzzlers. Car drivers want vehicles that use as little gas as possible. Believe it or not, today’s modern automatic gearboxes help achieve that goal!

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the BMW website as an example. Compare any model’s manual and automatic variants. You will find the automatic offers higher gas mileage and, in some cases, lower CO2 emissions.

Automatic transmissions are cheaper to maintain

Every so often you will have to replace the clutch in a manual car. When you have an automatic, nothing needs replacing for the life of the car. Of course, if the car has had a hard life, it might need a transmission repair at some point. But, for the most part, your auto box will cost you zilch in maintenance fees!

Clutches on some cars can cost several hundred dollars to replace. And that’s if you do the work yourself! From a cost point of view, automatics win hands-down every time.

Dual-clutch autos get favored by manual drivers

There will be some die-hard manual motorists that just don’t like conventional automatics. Still, many find the appeal of dual-clutch gearboxes too hard to resist!

Sure, they can select Drive and not have to worry about changing gear. But, if they want to have a more engaging driving experience, they can shift up and down manually.

Dual-clutch automatics enable drivers to select from six or more forward gears.

Fewer people know how to drive a manual

Many of today’s younger generations find it easier to learn how to drive in an automatic. Few will consider learning in a manual. It’s for those reasons that the amount of skilled manual drivers is declining.

In a few decades, there will come a time where only a handful of people will know how to drive a manual. As a car manufacturer, it doesn’t make sense to support a way of driving that is on the decline.

Emily Muelford
Emily is a British writer whose love of car culture is augmented by a fascination with both the European and American automotive markets. Her perspective is uniquely fish and chips.