Are Drivers Returning to Manual Transmissions?
According to a new study, the short answer is yes. But the long answer is still no.
It's a nice thought, and I wish it were true. But it doesn't follow what's actually happening. More bluntly: If this is anything other than a statistical blip, I'll eat my hat.
Before we go any further, let's take a look at the numbers cited. USA Today says that:
... in the first quarter of this year, manuals were in 6.5% of new vehicles sold, and that's getting close to double each of the past five years. It's also highest since 7.2% in 2006, according to Edmunds.com.
That high "take rate," as the industry calls it, is even more impressive because just 19% of the 2,360 different models on sale offer manuals, Edmunds.com reports. Five years ago, 29% of the 2,391 available styles did — yet only 2.9% were sold with stick shifts that year, the lowest "take rate" in a decade.
Edmunds.com calculated the "take rate" of manuals for Drive On. The 2012 calculation is for the first quarter of the year. The others are full-year:
2012 - 6.5%, 2011 - 3.8%, 2010 - 3.9%, 2009 - 4.4%, 2008 - 3.7%, 2007 - 2.9%, 2006 - 7.2%, 2005 - 6.7%, 2004 - 5.5%, 2004 - 5.5%, 2003 - 8.2%, 2002 - 8.5%.
It's common knowledge that the manual transmission will eventually die off; engineers have managed to make modern automatics both more efficient and more reliable than their three-pedal counterparts. Fewer vehicles are offered with a manual every year, and manufacturers almost universally say that decision is driven by customer choice; people don't buy three-pedal cars, so carmakers don't make them. Even in Europe, where manual transmissions are both more common and more loved, the numbers are shrinking.
Despite what the author claims, manuals get better gas mileage and power when compared to a similar auto; you control when to shift and how high your RPMs go. When you "wind out" the RPMs, as many autos do when going uphill or towing, you burn more gas.
Manuals make you focus on driving, so you can't be distracted while driving or you'll overheat the engine (redline the RPMs).
Yes autos have made vast improvements, but nothing compares to driving your vehicle not having it drive you.
I love my manual, but then again, I don't really commute in traffic.
Me too. However, on one occasion I was stuck in a large traffic jam. I inched along for two hours. I was glad I had chosen to take my wife's automatic equiped car that day. If I had taken my manual equiped car it would have killed my left leg.
Regardless of the trends, I still think knowing how to drive a manual transmission should be man law.
I sit in stop and go traffic every day and I still won't consider switching to an automatic. I don't understand what the problem with stop and go traffic is.
I tried an automatic once. I had it less then one year before dumping it. Personally, I'm not to worried about where the trends are going. Manuals may one day be gone, but it's unlikely that it will be within my lifetime. As long as the models I am interested in are offered with a manual, I will be happy.
Every single driving school and law enforcement agency will tell you that you are in better control of your car with BOTH hands on the steering wheel at all times.
Those same driving schools and law enforcement agencies also say that it is safer to concentrate and focus on your driving which the vast majority of automatic drivers fail to do.
Thinking you are a safe driver simply because you have two hands on the steering wheel is the true illusion here.
It's similar to the driver going 10 mph under the speed limit in the left lane of the interstate. They think that since they are driving under the speed limit, they must be safe and therefore, don't have to worry about getting into an accident. They have NO concept of their surroundings and are some of the most dangerous drivers on the road.
I prefer to keep both of my hands on the steering wheel since it is a safer way to operate a vehicle.
I prefer to keep one hand on the steering wheel and one hand on the stick shift since THAT is safer way to operate a vehicle.
A person with one hand on the steering wheel and one hand on the stick shift who is concentrating on his driving because he has to is safer then someone with both hands on the steering wheel who isn't paying attention to anything because they don't have to.
EXPLORE NEW CARS
MORE ON MSN AUTOS
ABOUT EXHAUST NOTES
Cars are cool, and here at MSN Autos we love everything about them, but we also know they're more than simply speed and style: a car is an essential tool, a much-needed accessory to help you get through your day-to-day life. What you drive is also one of the most important investments you can make, so we'll help you navigate your way through the car buying and ownership experiences. We strive to be your daily destination for news, notes, tips and tricks from across the automotive world. So whether it's through original content from our world-class journalists or the latest buzz from the far corners of the Web, Exhaust Notes helps you make sense of your automotive world.
Have a story idea? Tip us off at firstname.lastname@example.org.