Manual transmission is becoming less popular each year

Automatic cars are invading our roads and pushing out the old humble manual transmission and quickly making it obsolete. The days of enjoying 3 pedals and a gear knob are limited. If you’re one of the many motorists that drive a manual car, chances are you’re already surrounded by family members, friends and colleagues that all drive automatic cars. So just how endangered is the “stick shift” setup?

Automatic car count has increased by more than double in the UK

Mercedes-Benz A-Class front side 1

In 2012, 506,720 automatic cars were registered but in 2017, the amount of new automatic cars being registered more than doubled to 1,016,516. In 2012, automatic cars made up just 24.8% of total car registrations which sounds about right – roughly 1 in 4 cars being automatic. However, in 2017 that percentage has shot up to 37.7%.

If we assume this pattern continues, automatic cars will be outselling manual cars before the end of 2024, just 5 years away!

Manual Transmission Is Dying, Quickly 2

Another thing to consider is the small, but growing, market of electric cars. Teslas have become fairly popular and other, less luxurious offerings such as the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe can often be spotted out in the wild. Obviously, these cars have no gears and are therefore automatic and as the electric car industry grows and they become more popular, they will also contribute to the death of the manual transmission.

If the government sees through their promise of ending the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040, and the alternative is electric cars, then there won’t really be a choice between manual and automatic anymore anyway.

Manufacturers are making less manual cars than ever

Ferrari 488 Pista front side 3

Car manufacturers have noticed the increase in demand for automatic transmissions and some have even stopped offering it altogether on certain models. Even more surprising is that these cars can be regarded as true enthusiasts cars and it’s car enthusiasts that are often the most passionate and strict about driving manual cars. Cars such as the Porsche 911 GT3 and Renault Clio RS 200 Turbo no longer offer manual transmissions, both of which would otherwise be bought by enthusiasts that love manual transmission.

Luxury supercar brands such as Ferrari and Lamborghini don’t even offer manual transmissions anymore. Other manufacturers such as McLaren, Porsche and Maserati are also making it hard to buy manual in recent years, which is understandable as most of their customers aren’t demanding it.

Porsche 911 GT3 4

As for more ordinary cars, luxury saloons and SUVs are mostly bought with automatic transmission as well. When it comes to Mercedes, Audi, Jaguar and BMW, most of their cars on the road are automatic transmission. If you drive a Mercedes E Class or BMW X6 and it’s manual transmission, you’re part of a very niche group of people.

Here’s what Tobias Moers, Head of AMG had to say:

“I’m a bit of a traditionalist at heart and can understand why people wish the involvement of a manual gearbox, but the automatic gearboxes give us so many more options technically. They can cope with the increasing power and torque demands we put on them and, on the rational side, they’re more efficient than manuals. The paddles are also more practical when you’re really pushing and the system is more relaxing to use when you aren’t. There are just fewer compromises.”

Why are automatic transmissions becoming more popular?

BMW X5 front side 5

With so many supercars and luxury cars mainly offering automatics, it could be suggested that automatic transmissions have a certain “luxury” reputation, therefore making them more desirable and more of a bragging point for owners.

Furthermore, the old sayings that proclaimed automatics are less fuel efficient, unreliable and sluggish are simply no longer true. Modern cars can now offer 8-speed automatics with lightning-fast gear changes, making them not only ultra-fuel-efficient, but also very responsive and quick. They’ve also become very reliable, as most modern cars have. Especially when compared to cars made 30 or 40 years ago.

The disadvantages to owning an automatic car are slowly disappearing, and with that, manual sales are slowly, but surely, diminishing. If you still drive a manual, tell us if you believe for it to be a superior transmission, and if you do, tell us why!

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