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Don't call it a comeback...

Many automotive enthusiasts have been lamenting the fact that automakers are starting to shy away from the manual transmission. Most automakers cite that take rates for manual transmissions are in steady decline. This is due to several factors, one of which being that many modern automatic transmissions now get better fuel economy than manual transmissions thanks to having more forward gears.
 
Some sports car companies are sticking with the manual transmission and are actually adding gears, such as Porsche. Porsche unveiled a seven-speed manual transmission for its sports cars not long ago.
 
While Porsche is sticking with the manual transmission, BMW has announced that it is axing the manual as an option for its M5 and Audi has discontinued manual transmissions in some of its vehicles in Europe.
 
According to Edmunds.com, the manual transmission has made a slight comeback this year. According to statistics put together by the website, 7% of all new cars sold in 2012 are equipped with manual transmissions. That is a massive decline from 20 years ago when one out of every four cars sold had a manual transmission. However, 7% is much higher than the 3.9% take rate for manual transmissions last year. 2012 is on track to be the year with the highest rate for manual transmission vehicle purchases since 2006.
 
"A combination of factors - from the growing age of vehicle trade-ins bringing more manual drivers back to market, to a greater proportion of smaller cars on the road - is creating a small spike for stick shifts," says Edmunds.com Industry Analyst Ivan Drury. "But even though manual cars are on the rise now, they're on track to be virtually extinct in the next 15 to 20 years."
 
Edmunds.com also reports that 64% of all 2012 model year vehicles are only offered with automatic transmissions. Ten years ago, the number of vehicles that weren't available with the manual transmission was must lower at 48%.
 
It's worth noting that some sports cars are only offered with manual transmissions, including the Audi TT RS, Aston Martin V12 Vantage, Fiat 500 Abarth, Ford Shelby GT500, MazdaSpeed 3, and Volkswagen Golf R.

Source: MarketWatch



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RE: Not much point really.
By quiksilvr on 8/2/2012 10:11:24 AM , Rating: 2
Why do you need a manual in cities? To go 25-35 mph on one way streets, stopping at red lights every block and driving in a straight line?

Manuals no longer give the fuel efficiency benefits. It may give better acceleration and performance benefits, but automatic is closing the gap in this area as well.


RE: Not much point really.
By dbeers on 8/2/2012 10:26:47 AM , Rating: 1
Not true - manual transmissions will always get better economy given you are always getting higher efficiency of power transfer over an automatic since you're directly driving gears as opposed to a hydraulic pump and torque converter setup which only achieve similar efficiency when they lock up mostly above 45MPH or in OD.

Unfortunately too many people are lazy or just don't know how to drive a stick, and dealers often won't order manual transmission cars on their lots (due to reason #1). I wanted a manual last year when I bought my Escape, but couldn't find any locally in stock when I needed to buy, and didn't have the time to wait to special order like I did for my previous truck. Also, many makes & models are not available above a certain trim level or engine combos with a stick, often relegating it to the basic economy models/levels.

I'd much rather shift my own gears, not to mention pay less up front for the cost and eventual hefty repair bills on the automatics. On my Ranger it was $1000 more for the auto over a stick.


RE: Not much point really.
By mellomonk on 8/2/2012 11:34:50 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry, but you are a little out of touch with modern automatics. The ability of the electronics to act in tandem with the engine management and timing as well as react to the dynamics of any given moment is making them very efficient overall, for the average driver. The coup de grace is 6, 7, 8, and even 9 speed automatics as well as the ever improving CVTs. The range of drive ratios available in an 8 speed 'slushbox' makes up for more and more of the losses when the torque converter is not locked up. They react faster and more intelligently then the average driver. The future of efficiency is in intelligent 6+ speed autos, CVTs, and 6+ speed DCTs.

I am a firm believer in manual trans and have never actually owned an automatic. My daily driver is a Wolfsburg Jetta with 6 speed manual. But as an enthusiast it is clear which way the world is going. Many high end performance autos can only be purchased with DCTs, and manuals are pretty much a non-entity in anything that pulls a load. Now as to the complexity and durability of these intelligent trans......much remains to be seen.


RE: Not much point really.
By JediJeb on 8/2/2012 1:41:48 PM , Rating: 2
I guess I am spoiled with my current truck, 96 F150 with the 4.9L inline 6 in that I don't even need all 5 gears on a regular basis. If I am not hauling something heavy I normally just shift through 1,3,5 skipping 2 and 4. But when I can enter 5th at less than 35mph and still accelerate(though a little slowly if I do) why waste the time using them all.

I really miss my old 71 F100, I could drive that thing even in town using only 3rd gear( had 3 on the tree), just slip the clutch a little on takeoff and you were good to go in high gear. Most new vehicles have nice high horsepower ratings but terrible low end torque like those older ones. Heck that 71 you could dump the clutch at idle in 1st gear and it would bark the tires and take off without killing it, great vehicle for someone learning to drive :) couldn't kill it on takeoff, and geared so low it wouldn't hit 100mph even when you had the engine screaming and throwing oil out the breather at full throttle lol.


RE: Not much point really.
By dbeers on 8/2/2012 1:59:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sorry, but you are a little out of touch with modern automatics. The ability of the electronics to act in tandem with the engine management and timing as well as react to the dynamics of any given moment is making them very efficient overall, for the average driver. The coup de grace is 6, 7, 8, and even 9 speed automatics as well as the ever improving CVTs. The range of drive ratios available in an 8 speed 'slushbox' makes up for more and more of the losses when the torque converter is not locked up. They react faster and more intelligently then the average driver. The future of efficiency is in intelligent 6+ speed autos, CVTs, and 6+ speed DCTs.


I'm very familiar with modern automatics. Most of these 6,7,8+ "speed" transmissions don't actually have that many gears, they are just applying OD or lockup at the top of lower gears to essentially get another gear ratio. Granted they are better and slightly more efficient than automatics of old, but they will never be more efficient and get better mileage than a good manual, not to mention cost less to produce or maintain. That was the point I was trying to make.


RE: Not much point really.
By Spuke on 8/2/2012 3:41:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Granted they are better and slightly more efficient than automatics of old, but they will never be more efficient and get better mileage than a good manual, not to mention cost less to produce or maintain.
But some of the auto's either match or DO get better fuel economy than manual trannies. And if there's a real DCT installed, they typically get better than manual trans fuel economy. That's the point WE are trying to make. LOL! Your knowledge of newer autos/DCTs is lacking. For someone that can figure out how to log into DT, you sure don't know d!ck about web searches. This is all public info. Even a caveman could find this stuff.


RE: Not much point really.
By Griffinhart on 8/3/2012 10:14:31 AM , Rating: 2
I have been driving stick for 25 years, and I have admittedly just purchased the dreaded automatic. This time I wanted a tech car and got the Ford Focus Titanium which only comes with automatic. Though they claim it's an automated manual and not the same traditional auto transmission. I'm not hip on the differences between a dual clutch transmission vs a conventional automatic.

Both types of transmissions have their place. Some of the old thoughts no longer apply though. 20 years ago manuals always had better gas mileage. That's no longer the case. Automatics aren't more costly to maintain these days. I've had costly trasmission repairs. The last one was having to replace the master cylinder on my 2001 explorer. I don't have a single friend that's had to put any repairs into their automatic transmissions over the past 20 years.

I personally find Manuals give me better performance and fun driving, but let me tell you, there is nothing fun about a Boston Commute driving a stick.

If it's a manual in a truck you lose utility with stick. Towing capacity of manual transmissions are typically 1500lbs+ lower than automatics.

There is a "security" advantage to stick. So few know how to drive them it is a deterant. Heck, a few months ago in Lynn Mass there was a bank robbery and the suspects tried to hi-jack a womans car (with a baby in the back seat) and they got in the car, and right back out because they didn't know how to drive stick!

Fewer friends want to borrow you car as well! :)

Honestly though, I find the biggest reason for fewer manual sales are because of how manufacturers sell options. I have often seen cases where if you wan't a GPS you have to also get a trim level that includes an automatic transmission. There are many times you only have limited trim choices if you want a stick.


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