17.1 million cars were sold in the US during 2019 with only 1.1% of those being sold with a manual transmission. that’s 0.5% lower than the year before that. Another interesting figure to take note on was the percentage of cars sold that were EVs. So, putting those figures together… EVs outsold manual transmissions. I’m as appalled as you are.
There are a number of factors that have affected these figures. The main one being the fact that in America, there are few cars one can actually buy with a manual transmission. Plus, if you’re looking for an EV, you’ll be pushed to find one with a manual transmission. They are out there, but for a massive premium. This year has also brought us the most all-electric car-marketing the motoring industry has ever seen, which has obviously driven sales. The manual gearbox is niche, and while EVs used to be niche, they are no longer.
Companies like Toyota are, however, fighting back. Their new manual transmission aims to be driver-friendly and safe with auto-rev matching. They call it their ‘Intelligent Manual Transmission. While you may think this is unnecessary, many drivers, especially in America, don’t want to be worrying about rev-matching etc, making this a must-have tool for new cars.
Automatic cars do tend to have more driver aids, though. Adaptive cruise control, for example, is mostly only available on autos, and this is becoming a vital part of modern-day driving. Gone are the days where the everyday person actually focusses on what’s in front of them…
With EVs becoming so popular, and with Tesla especially ramping up their Model 3 production and soon the Model Y, we will only see these numbers grow further apart. Will manuals recover? Probably not, but I’d hate to see them go altogether.