Is the Manual Transmission Going the Way of the Dinosaur?
Do you know how to drive a car equipped with a manual transmission? If so, you happen to be in a rapidly-shrinking minority.
I’ve never driven a car with a manual transmission.
To be honest, I’ve never had a desire to learn how to do so. I have enough on my mind these days, that I prefer to put the car in Drive and just go about my business without having to think about which gear I’m in.
Yes, I’m aware of the fact that this convenience comes at a slight cost in fuel efficiency. But on this subject, I’m willing to pay the difference.
The first car I learned to drive with was my parents’ 1973 Oldsmobile. It just happened to have an automatic transmission, you see, and we’ve never had a manual since that car. (My parents grew up with mostly manual transmissions, of course.)
By sheer coincidence, it was Oldsmobile that introduced the first automatic transmission into the mainstream back in 1940.
Fast-forward 76 years: Ferrari has decided to drop manual transmission in its new vehicles, claiming it wasn’t a lack of demand but rather a lack of performance that led to the decision.
Just last week, a St. Louis man wound up not becoming the latest victim of carjackers because his car was equipped with a manual transmission. Apparently the would-be crooks couldn’t handle a stick shift.
As the victim tells it, the robbers told him to get out of the car and walk away. He complied, but then said his assailants suddenly took off without stealing anything.
Perhaps they were in the majority of American drivers.
A recent report from U.S. News and World Report stated only 18 percent of U.S. drivers know how to operate a stick shift.
The report also suggested fewer drivers are getting the opportunity to learn based on the supply of new cars, as only about five percent of American vehicles sold today even have a manual transmission as an option, down from 25% in 1987.
Then there’s this additional fact:
The third pedal is also bad for re-sale value, on average selling for $2,000 less than cars with automatic transmissions.
So if you know how to drive a car with manual transmission, you’re almost a novelty on the American road. And if you’re ever in an emergency situation where someone has to drive one, you’ll be the one who saves the rest of us!