Are Manual Cars on Their Way Out?


You love the power and control of driving a stick shift car. But you wonder if you're the only one. All around you, people are trading in their manual cars for automatics.

Are manual cars disappearing? Yes and no. Let's look at some reasons why manual car sales have declined, and let's also explore some reasons why manual cars may stick around longer than we think.

The Case for the Disappearing Manual Car

If you suspect that sales of manual cars have declined over the years, you would be right. In 1980, 35% of cars manufactured in North America were manual. In 2014, just 10% were.

There are various reasons for this decline:

  • Improvements to automatic cars. In the past, manual cars often enjoyed better fuel efficiency, control, and performance. Today, updates to automatic cars have helped them meet and sometimes even surpass manual cars in these categories.
  • Manual vs Automatic transmission cars. For standard vehicles, the manual transmission models have historically been less expensive than automatics. People who have to operate their cars in city traffic prefer automatic transmissions because of frequency of stop and go traffic.
  • Drivability of automatic cars. Many teenagers learning to drive for the first time prefer learning with automatic cars. People who don't particularly enjoy driving also enjoy a less stressful driving option. People who prefer manual cars may have family members who don't know how to drive manual cars. Thus, they decide to purchase automatic cars for their family.

These reasons have caused manual car sales to decline. But is the manual car gone for good?

The Case for the Immortal Manual Car

Despite the strong reasons why automatic car sales have eclipsed sales of manual cars, these vehicles are still around. In fact, there were more stick shift sales in 2012 than there were in the years since 2006. The main reason why manual cars are still in demand is simple: people enjoy driving them.

Many people who have driven manual cars their whole driving lives don't want to switch to automatic. They feel that manual cars give them a better sense of control in different driving situations. They find driving manual cars exciting and driving automatic cars uninteresting and dull. They may feel that their manual car has better fuel efficiency and performance than an automatic car does, although this idea isn't necessarily true depending on the vehicle.

There are a couple of other perks to choosing manual cars as well. Since fewer and fewer people learn how to drive manual cars, your friends are less likely to borrow your manual car. It may also make people less likely to steal your car, since they may not know how to drive it.

Because of these reasons, people continue to purchase manual cars. Many car manufacturers have paid attention to the demand and continue to produce various car models with manual transmissions.

Should You Trade In Your Manual Car?

With all these reasons in front of you, is it time to give away your manual car and buy an automatic car? If you're holding on to your manual car only because you believe it gives you better fuel economy and performance, you may want to explore other car possibilities. There are many automatic cars available with performance that rivals that of manual cars. Do some research and figure out which car has all the features that meet your needs.

If you want to keep your manual car simply because you prefer driving it, there's no reason to give it up. Manual cars are still on the market for similar prices as automatic cars.

If you do decide to give away your manual car, donate it to Newgate School. We use donated cars to teach career skills to low-income adults.