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The Death of the Manual Transmission

In 2018, those who drive manual are die-hard motoring fans. The majority of people who own an automatic vehicle are unlikely to make the switch.


The Death of the Manual Transmission



In 2015, those who drive manual are die-hard motoring fans. The majority of people who own an automatic vehicle are unlikely to make the switch. Meanwhile, vehicles with manual transmission worldwide are becoming increasingly confined to primarily sports cars, or small cars. Why the decline? We have compiled a list comparing the two; which transmission is best for different conditions, and why, in spite of this, manual transmission is dying a slow death. 



Driving a manual often requires more skill and experience - more engagement with the road, driving and traffic conditions. An automatic transmission can unwittingly act as a buffer between you and the vehicle’s performance. Likewise, drivers of manual shift vehicles are less likely to use smart phones or other personal devices, decreasing the potential of driver distraction. For a commuter on the same daily route from home to work, an automatic may be the preferred option – particularly in congested traffic conditions. But driving for pleasure or professionally may influence the choice of transmission to one that allows the driver total control and responsiveness.



The price tag on a vehicle with manual transmission is typically fractionally smaller. However, this may backfire in lower resale value, as fewer people are choosing to buy manual vehicles. Manual transmissions can also get better fuel economy due to lower power loss and different gearing but it also depends heavily on the car, the driver, and road conditions. This is also becoming less so as transmission technology is refined and improved.  Older drivers and younger drivers are likely to prefer automatic transmissions due to the increasingly chaotic traffic conditions and impatience to get on the road respectively.



Manual transmissions usually have better acceleration because of shorter gearing, less weight, and less power loss than the automatic transmission in the same car, though there are exceptions.  In bad driving conditions, the manual transmission can give you more control and is much more responsive, which is a safer option – although of course this is dependent on the skill level of the driver.

In spite of the obvious benefits, the fact remains that only a very small portion of  models are being produced with purely manual transmissions, which narrows your choices. Clearly convenience and ease of use is definitely a deciding factor in buying a car, trumping good old-school factors such as the feeling of being in complete control of your car. The choice is ultimately influenced by the needs of the driver, and if you don’t mind juggling your burger, your coffee, the steering wheel and the gear stick, manual may still be on the cards.