December 12, 2014

Is the Stick Shift an Endangered Species?

Only about 10% of the motor vehicles built in North America have manual transmissions (stick shifts), down from about 35% in 1980, according to an Associated Press article. The article says that some of the country’s best-selling vehicles, such as the Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion, don’t even offer stick shift models.

Manual transmissions were all there was until 1939, when Oldsmobile premiered the automatic transmission. But manuals were still the transmission of choice for many drivers, who preferred their lower cost and the better gas mileage they provided. But improvements in automatic transmissions have closed these gaps, according to Jack Nerad, the senior editor of Kelley Blue Book, who is quoted in the article.  “The manual transmission has become kind of a dodo bird,” he says.