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The slow death of the manual transmission

917 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  ECHOKnight2000
Your next EV won’t need a clutch.

I've never owned a car with an automatic transmission. From my 1969 Datsun 2000 roadster to the 2011 Mini Countryman S that currently sits in my garage, I've had a long line of vehicles that required more than just pressing on the accelerator and pointing it toward a destination. Yes, there were a few years when my wife had a Honda CR-V with an automatic transmission. But my cars have always required me to actually shift gears. I plan on continuing this tradition for as long as possible. But I know eventually I'll be forced to drive a car with my left leg sitting idle.

By the end of the next decade, my beloved manual transmission may no longer be an option. In the United States, gas-powered vehicles have been moving away from clutches for years. The perpetually growing SUV (which are almost exclusively fitted with automatic transmissions) market is accelerating that trend.

But the real death of the stick shift will be electric vehicles. Because of the nature of electric motors, a gear box is unnecessary. These cars are capable of accessing their torque at all times. You don't have to downshift to fourth to access the extra power needed to pass a slow-moving car; you just stomp on the accelerator, and there it is.

This is why Tesla's Ludicrous mode is so amazing. There's no need for the driver or an automatic transmission to shift gears. It's just an eye-popping surge of power until you reach top speed or apply the brakes.

Of course, not every electric car will be the quarter-mile-eating Model S. Expect to see more Chevy Bolts in the future -- solid, utilitarian vehicles that will get you to your destination without the stress of running out of charge. The reality is, that's what people want, and who can blame them? If SUVs and the coming wave of EVs didn't kill the manual transmission, gridlock surely will.

With more cars on the road, and those motorways not getting any wider anytime soon, nonstop traffic is a way of life for many Americans. If you're stuck creeping along the highway for two hours a day, having a car with an automatic transmission is a no-brainer. And, frankly, most people just don't want to learn how to drive a stick. Why making motoring more difficult than it already is?

But for me, the additional control that a manual transmission offers is why I love cars. The ability to precisely control the power of a vehicle as it exits a corner on a twisty mountain road is something I've practiced for years. The satisfaction of being able to move forward from a complete stop on one of San Francisco's many steep inclines without stalling is a badge of honor. It's satisfying to drive a manual. To me, it's an important part of the experience.

So I'll hold onto my manual-transmission vehicles for as long as I can. But in the future, I won't be surprised when I ask a car salesman, "So what's the range again?" and drop a wad of cash on a new electric car.
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The Wall Street Journal ran an article about this subject a few months back. Amazing how few manual transmissions are being manufactured and sold nowadays. Got to say that for city driving I'll take an automatic, but for consistent long highway driving I'll take the manual. :)
For 50 years now, I've had over a dozen cars and trucks....only one with an AT, a Dodge Dart I had for 2 weeks. The Kitacamry stick will be in my hands for a long time to come.
I still have to master it. I know the concepts of driving one. But I know I have to get confidence. I've driven them and owned one for a bit. But my anxiety is high when I drive in traffic learning a stick. Someday I'll grow some balls lol. Still looking.
In terms of auto history - the death of the manual has been rather fast, actually. It's really been pushed the last 5-10 years making it much harder to find a manual (which are usually cheaper) in a new model than an AT.

I can drive any manual car (or at least I haven't had any that I couldn't drive yet) and could proficiently drive one before I had my license (1999....?!). There is a place for AT's. Unfortunately at this point, even though the wife and I have 5 vehicles - only 1 is a manual, and it's rarely driven (though that has nothing to do with why we don't drive it).

I'm not sure I would want to admit to having a mini..... manual or not.
I have owned and driven quite a few manually-shifted vehicles in my life. Electric cars aside, manuals are dying out because of increased traffic congestion, and great improvements in automatics. Add that some folks are lazy and many people aren't the enthusiasts that a lot of us are (or consider ourselves to be). I think a lot of young folks would rather not drive at all. And it doesn't help that an aging population would prefer to let the car shift gears for them. If you really prefer a manual, buy one while you still can..... and take very good care of it.
^^Yeah with the only option if you want to call it that is auto, and newer generations of kids not being exposed to manual (unless their into cars), then its hard press to see the manual staying. I know it will but obviously become more niche. Of course you have these quasi "automanual" shifters so that makes it worse. On top of that like you said most kids and people in general could care less about cars.
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