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October 9, 2014



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These charts from the EPA's report show the production shares of transmissions going back to 1980. The numbers are the gears; the letters "L" and "A" are for automatics, with "L" standing for those with a lockup torque converter, the standard in most vehicles. The green section for "M" shows how modern five-speed manuals peaked around 1987 for cars at 25 percent and in 1990 for trucks at roughly 30 percent, before the great decline set in. (Four- and three-speed manuals had been on the way out long before.)

While car buyers have shunned stick shifts, there's at least a core of holdouts who want to choose their own gear the old-fashioned way; it's still unthinkable to imagine a Ford Mustang or Chevy Camaro without at least a manual option. But in trucks, manuals are all but extinct; the only pickups that still offer manuals are the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma; all 1-ton models (F-150, Chevy Silverado, Ram) are automatics only. That bump marked "L8" in the top corner of the car and truck charts represents Chrysler's bet on 8-speeds as its major fuel-economy move, even in its lowest-cost models.

The hope I mentioned? You can see that the line for manuals in cars has stopped shrinking — and sure enough, buried deep within the spreadsheets of the EPA's report, lies the data that shows manual transmission cars hit bottom and have started to come back — from 311,618 in the 2011 model year to 452,232 models built in the 2013 model year. The EPA's forecast says manuals should grow again among 2014 models to 6 percent of production. It's still a small share of the market, but it shows there's a growing audience of drivers who doesn't mind having more control over their machines.
 

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Update: 2015 Ford Fusion and 2015 Chevy Cruze LT2 are no longer offered with manual transmissions, but; on the bright side, the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and 2015 GMC Canyon will offer manuals beginning in early 2015. Unfortunately, GM has elected to restrict the manual to 2WD work trucks only.

A client picked me up for lunch last week in a 2013 VW Passat tdi with a six speed manual. I got to drive back to my office - in NYC traffic - but what a treat! The engine/transmission combination was just about perfect, and really fun to drive. I really hope GM sees its way to place a manual transmission option in the next Cruze diesel.

I love my Volt, but miss my manual transmission equipped Saab 9-5.
 

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I prefer a manual and have one in my 2012 Mustang but I also have an automatic in my F-150 and choose it when driving in the city. So much more pleasant.
 

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Frankly I'm not surprised... they're not teaching how to drive manual transmissions in most driver's ed classes, and we've also reached a point where in many cases the automatic performs at least as well as, if not better than a manual variant.
 

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This can only be interpreted as good news. Anything that keeps the driver more engaged in the business of driving is a welcomed development, and there's nothing more involving than rowing your own gears and manipulating a clutch.

Any uptick in manual trans sales is good for the driving public, as a whole.
 

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With very limited truck... real SUVs with a manual? I bought a 2014 Wrangler Unlimited 6 speed. Even fewer vehicles will offer a manual across the product line too . It's my DD... I don't mind a stick in traffic.

I'm still guessing in 2017 Jeep dumps the manual choice. Oh well I'll just keep it.
 

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Discerning between Lockup autos and not seems kind of meaningless especially since lockups have been around since the beginning of this graph and quickly replaced non lockers - Chrysler started in with lockups in 1978.

Can't say there's much I miss in manuals. Just want an auto that can be locked in one gear and not kick down - kinda like the clutchless manual.

And Ford had something like that going aaaalllll the way back to the 1966 C-6. It had the ability to be locked in second without automatically kicking down under throttle. You could even start out in 2nd in the snow and mud for better traction.
 

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This just goes to show what a pathetic nation of pansy-assed weenies we have become.

SEATTLE - Some would-be carjackers were "shiftless in Seattle" - which, police say, is why they ended up car-less: They couldn't drive a manual transmission.

A 70-year-old woman was about to be the victim of a carjacking when three teenage thieves realized none of them knew how to drive a stick shift, reports CBS affiliate KIRO. Surveillance video captured the suspects fleeing the scene on foot.
source

A 70 year old woman, God bless her, can drive a stick, and what passes for a modern day thug, can't. Jeez.
 

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This can only be interpreted as good news. Anything that keeps the driver more engaged in the business of driving is a welcomed development, and there's nothing more involving than rowing your own gears and manipulating a clutch.
SEATTLE - Some would-be carjackers were "shiftless in Seattle" - which, police say, is why they ended up car-less: They couldn't drive a manual transmission.

A 70-year-old woman was about to be the victim of a carjacking when three teenage thieves realized none of them knew how to drive a stick shift, reports CBS affiliate KIRO. Surveillance video captured the suspects fleeing the scene on foot.
Great story. And speaking of involvement, senior citizens and, um, "less involved drivers" note that there has NEVER been a documented case of unintended acceleration with a manual transmission car.
 

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Love my manuals and purposefully seek new cars with them. As things stand I'd rather buy a used car with a manual than a new one with an automatic, large trucks being an exception. They can be a pain to find without ordering though. My '08 Legacy GT, only car on the lot is 5 states with a manual. My '07 Nismo Frontier, only one in 7...

Take rate is really low and I think a big part of that is the modern driver mind set. DCT transmissions are faster and can be driven as an automatic, while automatics are getting to be as frugal, if not more so in the CVT guise. Modern drivers are expecting cars to nearly drive themselves. Give it 30 or so years and you'll see the same graph in comparing autonomous cars to ones that don't have that capability. Why pay attention and drive when you can play candy crush on your GM in car wi-fi.
 

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I really like the MT in my Cruze Eco. Getting great gas mileage and the car is always in the gear I want! :)

It had been 19 years since I've owned or even driven a manual and it has taken some getting used to since I bought it in July. It feels pretty natural now.
 
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With very limited truck... real SUVs with a manual? I bought a 2014 Wrangler Unlimited 6 speed. Even fewer vehicles will offer a manual across the product line too . It's my DD... I don't mind a stick in traffic.

I'm still guessing in 2017 Jeep dumps the manual choice. Oh well I'll just keep it.
I dunno, the Wrangler is the vehicle I think of as being the last manual trans vehicle available on earth
 
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Frankly I'm not surprised... they're not teaching how to drive manual transmissions in most driver's ed classes, and we've also reached a point where in many cases the automatic performs at least as well as, if not better than a manual variant.
This is not new. I got my license back in 1983 and they did not teach driving school in manual transmission cars. That was an extra thing I needed to learn on my own.
 

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This morbid fascination with personally selecting the gear your car/tuck/SUV is in completely baffles me. In the history of motor vehicles drivers once had full involvement with the intricacies of operation by:

Manually setting the choke for cold starting
Personally turning over the engine with a crank
Manually adjusting spark timing on the fly
Selecting the drive gear ratio
Engaging and disengaging the engine from the transmission when ratio changes were needed
Controlling highway cruising speed by watching the speedometer and modulating the accelerator pedal
Modulating brake pedal pressure to avoid wheel lockup
Modulating the accelerator pedal to avoid wheelslip
etc.

All of these save the gear selection and clutch actuation have been happily turned over to control systems with ever increasing capability to manage these function well beyond the ability of us mere mortals. Yet some (apparently 6% or so) stubbornly cling to the notion that turning these last two tasks over to the brain in the black box will strip them of driving involvement and put them at risk of joining the rainbow coalition.
 

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I dunno, the Wrangler is the vehicle I think of as being the last manual trans vehicle available on earth
Or a Cadillac ATS, and I'm planning to snag a manual ATS coupe before the 2016MY as there's a good chance of it being discontinued, just like the manual CTS 6 cyl coupe was after fewer than 150 takers in 2011.
 

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Discerning between Lockup autos and not seems kind of meaningless especially since lockups have been around since the beginning of this graph and quickly replaced non lockers - Chrysler started in with lockups in 1978.

Can't say there's much I miss in manuals. Just want an auto that can be locked in one gear and not kick down - kinda like the clutchless manual.

And Ford had something like that going aaaalllll the way back to the 1966 C-6. It had the ability to be locked in second without automatically kicking down under throttle. You could even start out in 2nd in the snow and mud for better traction.
My 1994 Grand Prix GTP had something like that - pressed a button to lock out 1st gear on the 4 speed automatic. Really did help in snow, in some respects better than traction control as traction control doesn't always work well in the snow.

I very briefly throught about getting the stick in my ATS, but the thought of endlessly shifting in the stop and go traffic crawl of i684 on a daily basis quickly ended the idea. And I know my wife wouldn't drive it. I learned to drive on a 4 speed stick - on Dad's then 10 year old 1975 Chevy Monza with a whopping 68 horsepower. Nothing like the fear of having to stop on a steep upward hill and only 68 hp to get you going forward!
 

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This morbid fascination with personally selecting the gear your car/tuck/SUV is in completely baffles me. In the history of motor vehicles drivers once had full involvement with the intricacies of operation by:

Manually setting the choke for cold starting
Personally turning over the engine with a crank
Manually adjusting spark timing on the fly
Selecting the drive gear ratio
Engaging and disengaging the engine from the transmission when ratio changes were needed
Controlling highway cruising speed by watching the speedometer and modulating the accelerator pedal
Modulating brake pedal pressure to avoid wheel lockup
Modulating the accelerator pedal to avoid wheelslip
etc.

All of these save the gear selection and clutch actuation have been happily turned over to control systems with ever increasing capability to manage these function well beyond the ability of us mere mortals. Yet some (apparently 6% or so) stubbornly cling to the notion that turning these last two tasks over to the brain in the black box will strip them of driving involvement and put them at risk of joining the rainbow coalition.
Those of us who view vehicles as more than just an appliance prefer manuals. It's okay if you want to drive something that has the driver interaction of a white refrigerator, but there's nothing morbid about folks who want more from their driving experience.

Also, other than show your age or knowledge of vehicular development, your list of antiquated tasks are irrelevant, as the first 3 items have nothing to do with driving a manual trans. In fact, it's silly. Few of us manual enthusiasts advocate a return to crank window, manual brakes/steering, and no A/C, and no one that I know would enjoy hand-cranking an engine and setting the dwell and timing on the fly. This is a straw man argument.

Call me morbid and stubborn, if you like, but it just makes you appear a bit small-minded to put those of us down who prefer manuals.
 
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