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  (Source: Paul Stamatiou)
America's second largest automaker is targeting smaller vehicles, gunning hard for baby boomers and Gen Y buyers

At a press event on Friday, Ford Motor Comp. (F) unveiled its new advertising plan to target 160 million Americans that fall into either the "millennial" (aka "Generation Y"; born in the early 1980s to early 2000s) or "baby-boomer" (born between 1946-1964) generations.

I. Ford Guns for Gen. Y, Plugs Zipcar Partnership

Ford's new campaign will focus on the so-called "super segment" which includes small cars, midsize sedans, and small utility vehicles.  The segment accounted for only 35 percent of Ford sales in 2004, but as customers have moved towards smaller vehicles Ford today sees it account for 50 percent of sales.

The automaker has excelled in recent years, behind only General Motors Comp. (GM) in U.S. sales.  In fact, all of the U.S. automakers have done well -- Chrysler LLC is in third place, while Toyota Motor Comp. (TYO:7203) and Honda Motors Comp., Ltd. (TYO:7267) have fallen behind in U.S. sales.  Strong growth in the super segment has saved Ford, sustaining its U.S. growth, while sales have slumped in Europe.  "Super segment" models include the (re-introduced) Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, and Escape.

The automaker acknowledges that the large millennial generation represents a risk, with more of them living with their parents or having lower incomes, but says it's confident it can appeal to them as they settle down and have children.

Ford's Group Marketing Manager Amy Marentic remarks, "Millennial want a vehicle that looks great, but at the same time are sensitive to things like value, fuel efficiency, technology.  [They're] not going to be brand loyal to what their parent did.... When they drive up to the club they want to look fabulous... Just like their cell phone, just like their shoes... they want their car to make a statement about them."

The company views its partnership with Zipcar Inc. (ZIP) as a crucial piece of effective advertising to Generation Y buyers.  Ford Sales Analyst Eric Merkle says that when Gen. Y buyers graduate from colleges they're used to driving Ford via Zipcars, which mostly are Ford Focuses, with a few Escapes mixed in.  

ZipCar
Zipcar is a key partnership for Ford's Gen. Y appeal. [Image Source: Kelvin Ma/Bloomberg]

He says that some will move to cities -- where more Ford Zipcars await -- while others will opt to move to the suburbs and buy a vehicle for commuting.  He says those buyers are more likely to buy a Ford.

In total, Zipcar's Ford fleet logged 2.2 million driver hours last year, with about 700,000 drivers.

II. Manuals Seeing Strong Sales Among Younger Drivers at Ford

In an interview Eric Merkle was asked about how Ford would react to manual drivership decreasing in younger buyers.  Mr. Merkle disputed that premise stating, "Oh no, [Millennials] do really like to drive manuals.  I really think that you're starting to see the manual starting to come back."

He supports his claim with sales figures.  He says approximately 12 to 23 percent of Ford Fiestas sold per month (as many as 1 out of every 5 sold) and 9 to 17 percent of Focuses sold per month come with manuals.  

Manual Transmission
Around one in five Focus and Fiesta buyers pick manuals some months.
[Image Source: Automobile Magazine]

While he did not cite a breakdown by generation, the Focus and Fiesta are cars that are thought to do quite well with Gen. Y buyers, so his claim may well be accurate.

Ford views its chief competitors in the super segment -- particular in the manual sales -- as Mitsubishi Corp. (TYO:8058), Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (TYO:7270) subsidiary Subaru, and Volkswagen AG (ETR:VOW).

III. Ford Blasts Back at Critics of MyFord Touch

Mr. Merkle also commented, "[With Sync/MyFord Touch] we didn't want the vehicle to become the cell phone; we wanted to integrate seamless with the cell phone."

I asked Ms. Marentic about Ford's struggles with harsh criticism from J.D Power and Associates and Consumer Reports regarding its graphically overhauled MyFord Touch infotainment system.

MyFord Touch
MyFord Touch in the F-Series. [Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech]

She defended Ford's strategy, acknowledging that much like the smartphone, the system started with some bugs, but has gained from continual patches/improvements.  She also asserted that Ford's customer satisfaction surveys consistently rank vehicles sold with MyFord Touch above those not sold with it.

I asked her why the disconnect then, by Consumer Reports, when they are supposed to predict how consumers will react to a vehicle in terms of satisfaction.  She responded, "That's true.  That sounds like a good question for Consumer Reports."

Responding to my inquiry about whether the criticism would soften amid competitors like GM introducing similar technologies in their vehicles, she predicted it likely would, commenting, "As the first mover you get a lot of love, and you get a lot of criticism.  But everybody's going there [to infotainment].  It is the future."

IV. CAFE Quandaries and Looking Ahead to the 2014 Fiesta Mix

I asked Ms. Marentic if she worried about the demand for smaller vehicles to backfire if it flips in coming decades, as automakers may have grown more complacent with regards to tough CAFE increases, such as President Obama's 54.5 mpg 2025 target.  She said she didn't think so, arguing that Ford is always an industry leader in fuel efficiency.

The advertising campaign will kick off not long before the new 2014 Fiesta ST -- a performance-geared variant of the popular front wheel drive (FWD) subcompact  -- hits dealerships the new Fiesta ST "hot hatch" hatchback will be driven by a 1.6L EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, with 197 hp and 214 lb-ft of torque, feeding into a six-speed manual transmission with overall steering ratio of 13.6:1 and increased roll stiffness at the rear axle.  The hatchback is currently the sales leader in Europe in its segment.  

2014 Ford Fiesta
2014 Ford Fiesta ST

Ford will also introduce a new fuel efficient 1.0L inline 3-cylinder EcoBoost Fiesta later in the fall. The engine block of the I3 is light enough to carry onto an airplane (around 50-60 lb, according to estimates).  

Ford Fiesta
Ford Fiesta's 1.0L engine block takes a trip through airport security as a carry-on.
[Image Source: Ford via AutoBlog]

The petite engine is expected to produce around 123 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque.  It bumps the highway fuel economy to 40 mpg.  The new 2014 Fiesta models pack an improved MyFord Touch screen.

Ford's hybrids (Fusion, C-Max) have been seeing strong sales, although its Focus Electric battery electric vehicle has seen tepid sales, forcing deep discounting.

[A special thanks to web-designer and photographer Paul Stamatiou for the shifter shot.  

Sources: Ford [1], [2]



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March of progress
By inperfectdarkness on 3/22/2013 3:30:15 PM , Rating: 3
Manuals are a carryover for people who like them. Paddle-shifters are far superior in virtually every way. While I personally don't like traditional "rowing-machines", I'm content to have them as an option on most vehicles--provided, of course, that paddles or auto is available on EVERYTHING.




RE: March of progress
By Nortel on 3/22/13, Rating: -1
RE: March of progress
By M'n'M on 3/22/2013 4:00:19 PM , Rating: 5
Manual shifting is a distraction ? C'mon tell me you were joking.

As for the article and MyTouch being preferred ... perhaps that says how badly the alternative performs.


RE: March of progress
By Philippine Mango on 3/22/2013 4:05:16 PM , Rating: 5
Well manuals are a distraction, a distraction from less important things like Text messaging while driving or sipping that latte, etc.


RE: March of progress
By Cstefan on 3/24/2013 10:10:14 AM , Rating: 5
Now that sounds right. It's much harder to send a text while balancing a clutch on a hill. Adding my mocha soy no foam fat free latte to the mix just causes accidents.

The rest of us know how to drive a real car!


RE: March of progress
By Silver2k7 on 3/25/2013 8:08:00 AM , Rating: 1
car it's *automobile* it even got auto in it's name ;)


RE: March of progress
By Milliamp on 3/22/2013 4:03:40 PM , Rating: 5
This isn't true because the RPM's you shift at are dependent on circumstances. If you are accelerating quickly, you shift closer to readline, if you are at a stroll, you shift sooner. Automatics make some adjustments based on how much peddle you are giving them but it isn't perfect.

I drive canyon roads all the time and sometimes I don't have a lot of room to pass so I sort of "line up the shot" by downshifting ahead of time and running my RPM'd just under the powerband so I can go as soon as I have an opening. An automatic couldn't possibly anticipate this situation. I give it a bunch of peddle, it starts accelerating in the gear I am in, then decided to downshift to the gear I need, then I go faster more better. How long it takes it to figure out what I am doing it dependent on the car but some take several seconds to downshift without manual intervention.

Another annoyance with automatics is when I am accelerating to the speed I need quickly and then leveling off my speed once the speed I need is reached. With an auto I just shift up a gear once I get to my intended speed, with an automatic it sometimes leaves it in the low gear I only wanted to accelerate in for too long and I have to sort of take my foot off the peddle to get it to tell it to come up a gear. Instead of trying to trick the car into shifting when I want it to why not just shift it myself?

I personally love manuals. They can be annoying in a traffic jams but I don't drive in traffic jams very often.

To your comment about how they distract the driver I would disagree. Distraction is what happens when you aren't paying attention to the road or your driving, with manuals I think they keep you more engaged in the process and the net result is you are less rather than more distracted from driving.

I think cars that eliminate too much of the road noise and feel and are too automatic are probably more dangerous because they bring about a sort of "well, I'm not doing anything else so I might as well play on my phone" kind of feel.


RE: March of progress
By Argon18 on 3/22/2013 4:14:36 PM , Rating: 5
You hit the nail on the head. Manuals force the driver to be engaged in driving, paying attention to traffic conditions, etc. You know, what they SHOULD be doing.

Automatics allow drivers to become lazy and complacent, deciding to play with electronic gizmos, and distracted by passengers, instead of focusing on the task at hand - driving the car.


RE: March of progress
By inighthawki on 3/22/13, Rating: -1
RE: March of progress
By KentState on 3/22/2013 4:56:12 PM , Rating: 5
Complete B.S. as a long time manual driver in heavy traffic. It makes driving much more engaging and predictable. I leave the car in 2nd and either accelerate or brake. That is not a distraction, but a simple way to modulate speed without the car shifting into a gear that is not preferable. The only way around that in an auto is to manual shift the gears which brings you back to the same situation.


RE: March of progress
By chrnochime on 3/22/2013 4:56:43 PM , Rating: 5
Obviously you don't drive manual cars frequent/long enough, because I sure as heck don't need to think about what gear I'm in nor what steps to go through in order to complete a upshift, downshift, double-clutching or heel-toeing. Becomes second nature.

Anyone who has driven manual extensively would agree with the above.


RE: March of progress
By maugrimtr on 3/25/2013 9:24:38 AM , Rating: 2
A lot of similar commentators don't drive manuals...

Once you're comfortable with a manual, it requires zero thought or attention. The sole exception is handling particularly steep hills where your choice of 2nd sometimes bites you so you end up shifting to 1st before you stall ;). Only time anyone with a manual should recall needing to think what gear they're in...short of the learning experience.


RE: March of progress
By RufusM on 3/25/2013 11:33:34 AM , Rating: 3
You need to drive a manual for a while before this muscle memory sets in so it becomes automatic. For most people, when split second decisions are needed at a critical moment it's much easier to react with an automatic, unless you've been driving a manual for quite a while.

To me there are so many advantages to an automatic, the main one being: Anyone can drive an automatic, not many can drive a manual. This results in much more flexibility when out and about with family and friends, borrowing vehicles, etc.

Hey, if they make manuals and they sell then good for them. If not, they'll limit production of them.


RE: March of progress
By Ammohunt on 3/25/2013 11:40:27 AM , Rating: 2
Honestly if you are dependent on the transmission in that way you should not be driving. I prefer a manual because it gives me precise control of the drive train which requires skill, which means not everyone should be driving.


RE: March of progress
By Dr of crap on 3/25/2013 12:49:20 PM , Rating: 2
You are correct, but they'll give out licenses to ANYONE, and they need not have a brain!

Those that can't - drive autos, those that can think and multitask will drive manuals. We each have a reason for which one to have.

Let them build both. It's like Rep or Dem, believes in global warming or not, tucked in or left out, who cares, just buy your car and DRIVE IT RIGHT!

Do we always have to go into the details as to which one EVERYONE should have forced on them ?????


RE: March of progress
By Fireshade on 3/26/2013 11:39:05 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
For most people, when split second decisions are needed at a critical moment it's much easier to react with an automatic, unless you've been driving a manual for quite a while.

When you have to manual shift, your driving style becomes much more anticipating. You simply have to.
The "danger" of driving automatic is that you don't anticipate anymore and become lax.


RE: March of progress
By MrBungle123 on 3/22/2013 5:14:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
With an automatic it allows the ability to focus more on what is happening around you than worrying about when you need to shift.


This of course only applies to those that are unskilled with a manual transmission...

If you get used to driving a stick an automatic is just annoying.


RE: March of progress
By talikarni on 3/25/2013 5:05:50 PM , Rating: 2
agreed.... regardless of the transmission, I try to keep as much attention to the road and cars around me as possible. With a manual, you're forced to, but after a while it becomes second nature, just as moving the stick from P to D in an auto is.
I prefer manual when possible, but not all vehicle lines have a manual option (like my second gen Durango family vehicle).


RE: March of progress
By DiscoWade on 3/22/2013 6:33:19 PM , Rating: 2
I've been driving a manual for so long that I shift unconsciously. I don't even think about it. My instinct takes over and I put it in the correct gear. I'm so used to a manual that I when I drive an automatic I start holding the gear selector without thinking.

When you are used to a manual, it is NOT a distraction, period. Only people who aren't used to a manual would say otherwise.

I've had a 1988 Honda Accord manual, 1993 Honda Accord manual (that was my favorite), 2001 Nissan Maxima manual, and now 2004 350Z roadster manual. I love my Z.


RE: March of progress
By Spuke on 3/22/2013 6:43:18 PM , Rating: 2
Agree with the above, a manual would only be a distraction to a newb manual driver. With some practice it really doesn't take long to get used to it. That said, the 8 speed auto in my wife's car is fantastic! That particular tranny or one of the new DCT's would pull me away from a manual.


RE: March of progress
By conquistadorst on 3/25/2013 8:52:28 AM , Rating: 2
Even for the *new* manual driver I think the "distraction" of shifting is questionable. When I was first learning to drive stick I was extremely attuned to the car + road. I was driving white knuckled, the same way I'd be driving along side cliffs without a guard rail - complete, utmost, 100%, scared-for-my-life attention.

I also agree an automatic "allows" drivers to do things they would not consider because their attention is freed to focus on something other than driving.


RE: March of progress
By chromal on 3/22/2013 8:37:32 PM , Rating: 4
As someone who has driven a succession of exclusively manual cars over nineteen years and approaching 220,000 miles, you couldn't be any wronger about this. You're just way off base.

Manual transmissions require that, in order to operate the vehicle, a driver must be more engaged with it while driving. This isn't just the number of things they must do with their hands and feet, it is psychological and innate. As others have said, it quickly becomes reflexive, the car's transmission an extension of yourself rather than some procedure of pedal/stick manipulation.

Manual transmissions used to pretty much always beat out automatic transmissions in every way: longevity, efficiency, vehicle control, even emergency engine starting. Now there are automatics that can beat manuals in some tests, like efficiency or shift speed. If you're main concern is lap times, you might be better off in a Porsche 911 GT3 with an automatic gearbox--- and the latest year's model only offers this.

Personally, I like manuals because they're fun, they make me a better driver, and I have a greater degree of confidence that I could successfully rebuild a manual 5-speed gearbox than even a 4-speed torque converter automatic. Plus I won't need to as often. My 98 Civic has a factory clutch/transmission and 225K on the odometer. Few autos make it this far without a rebuild.


RE: March of progress
By inighthawki on 3/22/13, Rating: -1
RE: March of progress
By Reclaimer77 on 3/22/2013 8:58:32 PM , Rating: 5
Just curious, but can you chew bubble gum and walk at the same time? I know it's really really hard...


RE: March of progress
By Spuke on 3/22/2013 10:17:40 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
You can all go ahead and call me a "newb that doesn't have sufficient experience driving a manual transmission" but that doesn't matter because at the end of the day even if the operations of a manual transmission become transparent to the operator due to the level of experience, you don't gain anything.
No experience with manual driving but you're an expert on what's gained or lost with driving one? Ok, I'll play. What exactly is "anything"? Explain how I am not gaining whatever that is.


RE: March of progress
By inighthawki on 3/23/13, Rating: -1
RE: March of progress
By txDrum on 3/23/2013 2:13:57 AM , Rating: 2
God forbid you have fun driving a manual. I don't think people should be allowed to change or listen to the radio while driving - the act of changing the station (and hitting that button or turning the dial) requires far to much thought to be safe on the roads. I don't see you gaining anything either, you can drive just as effectively without the radio as you can with.

And you better sure as hell not try to teach yourself how to hit that radio button while driving around neighborhoods slowly until you're comfortable enough to do it without paying attention. That's just dangerous. Call me a newb for not having enough experience, but I don't see what you gain.

Some people don't know a lot about cars, and also don't care. Making it harder to learn how to use (all those buttons for the radio) is not a good thing in any circumstance.


RE: March of progress
By inighthawki on 3/23/13, Rating: 0
RE: March of progress
By hduser on 3/23/2013 5:03:00 AM , Rating: 2
You really don't know what driving is. With a manual, the mundane things like shifting and gear selection becomes second nature. But you do have to think ahead about gear selection and executing a perfect upshift without jerking. If you've executed a perfect heel toe downshift it is very rewarding. The biggest compliment from a passenger you will get will be "Oh, I didn't know that your car was a stick."

I've had used both transmission over my life. I'm currently driving an auto but I sorely miss a manual. I find that I am a better driver with a manual as my mind is consciously and subconsciously occupied with the process of driving. It makes you more a part of the car. An auto transmission just gives you time to think about other non-driving things like food or relationships.

The difference is that manual drivers are concerned about how you get there vs just getting there. Driving is a visceral experience and the car is more than appliance.


RE: March of progress
By hduser on 3/23/2013 11:15:42 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry, this was meant as a response to inighthawki.


RE: March of progress
By chick0n on 3/23/2013 11:56:44 AM , Rating: 2
automatic is for people who can't drive for SHIT in the first place. oh I mean it's for people who is NOT supposed to drive in the first place. why? cuz they are simply retarded.

For someone to learn a manual, you can tell that person is somewhat into driving, he/she wants better control of their ride. He/she wants to be a better driver. no one would put effort to try to get more control over something unless they LIKE it.


RE: March of progress
By Griffinhart on 3/23/2013 6:18:36 PM , Rating: 2
If the learning curve were something that took years to master then I could buy into your argument. The simple fact is, it can take as little as an afternoon to learn and a day or two to get to the level of comfort where it feels natural. A week at the outside unless a person is totally uncoordinated.

The truth is, I would feel far more comfortable with a new driver in a stick than an automatic because of the little extra skill required in driving a stick.


RE: March of progress
By Jackthegreen on 3/24/2013 5:01:05 AM , Rating: 2
The learning curve can be a bit steep on a finicky tranny. My dad's manual Forester was definitely difficult to start with, and sadly didn't get any better when the tranny got rebuilt, but I agree that the learning curve isn't usually so bad so long as your teacher is competent. Heck, my dad and I still burn the clutch every now and then, but that's more an issue of the car being too quite and the repair job being sucky.

I regularly flip between an auto and a manual, and despite the issues with the manual's tranny I'd much rather drive that than the auto because it keeps me alert and thinking about the car, the road, and the traffic. The only times I've ever had problems were when I was rushing.


RE: March of progress
By lagomorpha on 3/26/2013 11:06:20 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
My dad's manual Forester was definitely difficult to start with,


Seriously? IME Subarus have the easiest manuals to drive because the clutch engagement is gradual, the gearing is short, and they have decent amounts of torque for being 4 cylinders.


RE: March of progress
By sorry dog on 3/27/2013 6:58:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Once you learn to drive a manual transmission well enough, there is no longer a gap between the two, but manual at that point provides no extra benefit as other posters have tried to claim.


Incorrect sir.

1. Many drivers (if you've noticed from the passionate comments) enjoy the mechanical interaction of the manual...clutch included. To say it another way...many drivers find the driving experience more enjoyable with a manual. That IS a benefit.

2. If driven correctly, manuals in general are more durable than autos or DCT's. There's many a Mercedes diesel manual taxi in Europe with a hundreds of thousands or millions of miles to attest to that. My MR2 5spd has 335k on it...and it hasn't all been nice mileage. Most types of auto tranny's will need rebuilding before then and simply have more moving parts and are more likely to fail. For the same reason, a manual is usually cheaper to repair.

3. I've yet to drive a paddle shift car that wasn't a pain at some point to up or down shift while in a turn or while turning the wheel. If I'm jockeying the wheel around it's a pain to find paddle and not accidently hit the wiper or turn stalk next to it.

There are other reasons, but that's just off the top of my head...and there's always other small things like the ability to possibly start your car even if the battery is dead.

Anyway, why is it so hard to admit your wrong in this case??


RE: March of progress
By chick0n on 3/23/2013 6:21:48 AM , Rating: 1
no gain? how about it trains ur body so it becomes more effective?

just admit that you suck at driving in general and of course u cant drive a stick for shit.


RE: March of progress
By V-Money on 3/23/2013 5:54:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What i mean is if the entire experience becomes completely transparent, then it's no different from driving with an automatic transmission. You either let the car do it for you, or you just do it enough that it's reflex. The net result is you have just as much attention to pay to the road as you do driving an automatic. I see no gain there. (And I'm not referring to the technical benefits of the transmission itself)


I think you are simplifying it too much. Just because something is natural and you don't notice a difference doesn't mean there isn't a difference. For example, a study has shown that riding a motorcycle can make you smarter by improving cognitive function. I ride a motorcycle and it's become such second nature to shift and drive that when I am simply driving to work or school it doesn't feel any different whether I am riding the bike, driving my truck (automatic) or driving my car (manual). Even though the experience is "completely transparent" as you say your brain is still working harder than if you are using an automatic. When I drive an automatic its nothing more than gas/break with a little bit of steering, when I drive a manual I actually control the car and even though it's second nature I am always keeping the RPMs appropriate for the setting I am in. The difference might not be as drastic as it is on the bike, but I am always more aware and more engaged with driving when using a manual.


RE: March of progress
By inighthawki on 3/24/2013 1:11:53 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I ride a motorcycle and it's become such second nature to shift and drive that when I am simply driving to work or school it doesn't feel any different whether I am riding the bike, driving my truck (automatic) or driving my car (manual).


And I'm willing to bet that you are an equally good driver with all three different types of vehicles.


RE: March of progress
By Black1969ta on 3/25/2013 6:29:57 AM , Rating: 2
And I would bet that he pays much more attention to the road (and surroundings) on the motorcycle, yet it also required the most user input. I would bet that even the car produces more attention than the Truck, but the truck has the "easiest" to drive auto.

When I was in College, there was an exchange student from England, he complained about our roads, not the twists and turns, but the low speed limits, he stated that it was so boring to drive that slow that it was hard to pay attention.

You act as though human have a finite brain capacity and driving a manual meets or exceeds that, in which case an automatic would "help" but our brain capacity far exceeds driving, we just need something to wake it up.


RE: March of progress
By V-Money on 3/25/2013 9:58:36 PM , Rating: 2
I am, although each has its advantages. That doesn't mean that I don't gain anything by driving the manual over the automatic or the bike over the manual just because I don't consciously notice a difference. To add another great benefit (in my opinion) to driving a manual is that not many people know how to drive one, so you don't have to worry about people asking to borrow it.


RE: March of progress
By tng on 3/23/2013 5:19:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
...why make people learn something that isn't necessary since automatic transmissions exist?
One thing I can think of is renting a car in Europe, I have never seen a rental car with an AT there, while in the US it seems that rentals only come with automatics.


RE: March of progress
By bigboxes on 3/23/2013 9:27:09 PM , Rating: 2
Just admit that you don't know how to drive a manual. Was that so hard?


RE: March of progress
By inighthawki on 3/24/2013 12:58:10 AM , Rating: 1
I never said I did, nor do I have a problem admitting that, but everyone is missing my point.

They are reading my post and immediately assuming that my point is that manual is harder to drive and is a distraction. I am trying to state that once the initial (very small) learning curve of driving a manual transmission vehicle becomes second nature to the operator, the distinction between driving a manual versus driving an automatic no longer exists. The type of transmission plays no role in how well a person pays attention to their surroundings. There are plenty of people who drive automatic that are just as engaged as the people who drive a manual.

Whether or not a person who drives a manual vehicle is more inclined to be more engaged in the driving experience is completely beside the point I'm trying to make. I have no doubt that driving a manual transmission vehicle will provide the driver with more experience with how the vehicle operates, but having a greater knowledge of how the vehicle works does not guarantee a better driver.


RE: March of progress
By Manch on 3/27/2013 11:09:17 AM , Rating: 2
First you say manuals are a distraction:
quote:
I disagree in cases where the driver is not simply distracted by something else. Having a manual transmissions takes focus OFF traffic and on to actually performing a task at the same time. With an automatic it allows the ability to focus more on what is happening around you than worrying about when you need to shift.


Then it's when you're a "newb"
quote:
Those that are "newbs" at manual transmission are certainly going to be distracted the first number of times driving because it requires them to be far more engaged on how to operate the vehicle than to pay attention to what's happening around them.


Then you say it doesnt once your used to it and added the unskilled caveat:
quote:
What i mean is if the entire experience becomes completely transparent, then it's no different from driving with an automatic transmission. You either let the car do it for you, or you just do it enough that it's reflex. The net result is you have just as much attention to pay to the road as you do driving an automatic. I see no gain there. (And I'm not referring to the technical benefits of the transmission itself)

quote:
I was simply stating that to an unskilled driver, it does require thought and thus not all of their attention is always put on the road, whereas with an automatic this is never the problem, because you can devote your entire attention to what is around you. Once you learn to drive a manual transmission well enough, there is no longer a gap between the two, but manual at that point provides no extra benefit as other posters have tried to claim.


then a littlebit more lane changing with your point and my favorite part in the bold...
quote:
They are reading my post and immediately assuming that my point is that manual is harder to drive and is a distraction. I am trying to state that once the initial (very small) learning curve of driving a manual transmission vehicle becomes second nature to the operator, the distinction between driving a manual versus driving an automatic no longer exists.

No one assumed anything! You said in your first post: Having a manual transmissions takes focus OFF traffic and on to actually performing a task at the same time.

then this bit of flip flop...so now it's not distracted it's engaged
quote:
Whether or not a person who drives a manual vehicle is more inclined to be more engaged in the driving experience is completely beside the point I'm trying to make.


Now, if you don't drive a manual, then how can you even sit here and argue any point?
At this point do YOU know what your point is?


RE: March of progress
By Jeffk464 on 3/24/2013 1:11:23 AM , Rating: 2
Wow, transmission rebuild is a big deal. Leave that one to a transmission shop.


RE: March of progress
By Griffinhart on 3/23/2013 6:01:35 PM , Rating: 1
spoken like someone that hasn't driven a manual transmission. If anything, it forces drivers to be more alert to driving conditions. Once a driver is comfortable with a manual transmission there is no "worrying about when you need to shift" It's actually quite natural. The driver is more in tune to what the engine is doing and allow the driver to use the engine to control the speed more than an automatic allows for. Downshifting when descending hills, for example.


RE: March of progress
By piroroadkill on 3/25/2013 4:31:31 AM , Rating: 1
Completely, 100% incorrect. Automatics make you think the car is just an easy plaything.

Manuals make you completely aware of traffic because you anticipate it, and shift, as opposed to just pushing pedals and drinking coffee while texting.


RE: March of progress
By Iaiken on 3/23/2013 11:01:52 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I give it a bunch of peddle, it starts accelerating in the gear I am in, then decided to downshift to the gear I need, then I go faster more better. How long it takes it to figure out what I am doing it dependent on the car but some take several seconds to downshift without manual intervention.


Your argument here is limited to traditional automatics with no gear selection, but in the case of a manumatic or dsg you simply select the gear you want in advance and mash the gas when there is an opening. The industry is trending away from these traditional automatics in favor of systems that allow the user to override.

In the case of Ford, they are moving over to these new electronically actuated manual transmissions dubbed new SelectShift and AutoShift. In the case of SelectShift, you still need to row the gear selector, but it is merely an illusion, the car performs the clutch/throttle play and smoothly shift into the desired gear for you in about 1/100th the time you could do it.

Personally, I won't miss the old cable/linkage system at all, but if I've learned anything in my time as an auto enthusiast is that there are plenty of die-hards out there that will bitch and cry about anything and everything that has changed since the 70's.


RE: March of progress
By Reclaimer77 on 3/23/2013 11:51:53 AM , Rating: 2
What bothers me most about DCT transmissions are the horrible variations in quality of implementation. It seems like half of them on the market have severe problems handling a downshift (we're talking like 3 second delays) or shift too roughly. Some of these problems might not be readily apparent on the test drive either. You're less likely to dog the vehicle when the salesman is sitting next to you.

quote:
In the case of Ford, they are moving over to these new electronically actuated manual transmissions dubbed new SelectShift and AutoShift.


Umm except Consumer Reports just nailed Ford for the exact issues I brought up with these transmissions. Especially extremely rough shifts. Most people just aren't going to be okay with that sort of thing.

And this isn't limited by vehicle price. Some very expensive brands have this issue.

Hey I think the technology is great, all I'm saying is get it right.


RE: March of progress
By Iaiken on 3/23/2013 12:51:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Umm except Consumer Reports just nailed Ford for the exact issues I brought up with these transmissions.


No, Consumer Reports nailed ford over the PowerShift transmission which is a dual-clutch setup and rightly so. The Focus ST I test drove felt like it was kicking you in the ass every time you shifted up and almost put you into the steering wheel if you downshifted from cruising in 5th to 3rd for passing. I have yet to have a good experience with a DCG and my experiences with computer-controlled manuals has been hit-or-miss.

So far the transmissions I am talking about are only available on the 2013 Mustang, Flex, Taurus and Edge. So far the prevailing criticism of the current SelectShift incarnations is that the +/- rocker switch on the gear selector was entirely unsatisfying/out-of-place and that Ford should have opted for paddles or a manumatic style selector off to the side. Ford has responded by saying that redesigning the steering columns to facilitate paddles or to change the selector boot was prohibitively expensive with the new Mustang so close on the horizon.

For me the 2013 Mustang was a case of "this should have been a hit, but..." especially since the Edge/Taurus actually got paddles.


RE: March of progress
By Spuke on 3/25/2013 2:07:08 PM , Rating: 2
I drove a Focus with the Powershift and it shifted smoothly for me although not near as smooth as the BMW and EVO dual clutch units. BTW, the only US cars with the Powershift tranny are the Focus and Fiesta. Other Ford's have traditional auto's.


RE: March of progress
By Spuke on 3/25/2013 2:11:01 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
What bothers me most about DCT transmissions are the horrible variations in quality of implementation.
Different manufacturers, different implementations. Very true! Although have not been really disappointed in any of the implementations, I found BMW's and Mitsu's to be the best one's in my drives. VW's was only a little better than Ford's IMO. Not terrible mind you, just not as good as BMW and Mitsu.


RE: March of progress
By DougF on 3/25/2013 12:42:58 PM , Rating: 2
I loved my manual cars (a BMW 325, a VW Scirocco, and a Volvo 850), and taught my kids to drive stick when they began driving. They (now 20 and 22) both prefer manual transmissions to automatic these days.

My daughter's manual transmission car kept the number of potential borrowers in college to almost nil, including most of her boyfriends, a good thing, IMHO. LOL


RE: March of progress
By StanO360 on 4/22/2013 12:08:04 PM , Rating: 2
I won't disagree about the distraction issue. But, automatics are becoming increasingly intelligent. Even my 4 year old Mazda6 5 speed Auto will downshift appropriately. Though I do miss the ability to "sling-shot" as you mentioned or drop down to 2nd turning off a busy street.


RE: March of progress
By Wererat on 3/22/2013 4:30:18 PM , Rating: 2
I like the concept of double-clutch paddle-shifting, if only they were quick enough (by which I mean Daytona Prototype, Indycar, F1 quick). I'd even settle for "as quick as I can toggle up/down on my motorcycle's gearbox" quick.

The only car sequential shifters I've used to date were on a Honda Fit (paddles) and Chevy Cruze (hand lever, alternative to the auto). Both took about a second to actually accomplish the shift once requested. Click *wait*wait*wait*wait*whrrrrrrrr. I (anyone) can manually shift twice in that time.

This was totally useless for the intended purpose of selecting a proper gear for corner entry/exit or passing. Really great if you want to unsettle the car by having the shift occur at an unknowable time sometime after the shift request, though. :0

Anyway yes, I agree in theory, and higher-end cars with paddles certainly manage it, but manual is fine until GOOD sequential shifting is available to the masses.


RE: March of progress
By chrnochime on 3/22/2013 5:02:25 PM , Rating: 2
FWIW the two cars you mentioned are not actually dual clutch transmission(DCT), just slushbox with flappy paddles to simulate the real DCT. You'd have to go with Ford's Focus to get the real thing, or something quite a bit more money like the M3' DCT or Lancer Evo's TC-SST.


RE: March of progress
By Spuke on 3/22/2013 6:46:33 PM , Rating: 2
Drive a Lancer EVO or some of the Bimmers with the 7 speed DCT. I drove a 135i with a DCT, shifts are lightning fast with a little pop on shifts and some burble from the exhaust when letting off the gas while slowing down. Believe it or not the EVO was tame and refined in comparison. Awesome transmissions on both cars!


RE: March of progress
By M'n'M on 3/22/2013 7:10:11 PM , Rating: 2
How would you rate either of those cars if you had to crawl in traffic or start on snow/ice ? Last SMT I drove was a while ago and it wasn't a thing of finesse when engaging 1'st gear from a stop. I suspect they've gotten a lot better since then but ...

(A 135i would be on my short list for a car in a few years)


RE: March of progress
By Spuke on 3/22/2013 7:28:52 PM , Rating: 2
On the Bimmer use DTC (allows more slip before the TC kicks in) for the snow, also I'd roll auto with sport mode deactivated on the DCT in traffic. I'd keep the EVO in normal mode and set the SAWC to snow for the white stuff and in traffic keep it in normal/tarmac. 1st gear from a stop on both cars was smooth. No jerkiness in my drives. The Bimmer was more refined and materials were better IMO than the EVO plus it had that split personality I really liked.


RE: March of progress
By Iaiken on 3/23/2013 11:32:30 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
little pop on shifts and some burble from the exhaust when letting off the gas while slowing down


I drive a MINI JCW and with all of the cars you mentioned the burble and pop is programmed into the engine computer. When you let off the pedal the ECU continues to give the engine tiny spurts of fuel and air to cool the cylinder but no spark to detonate it. That unburnt charge then passes into the hot exhaust manifold where it expands and combusts to create a popping sound or series of pops (burble).

In the case of BMW/MINI this burble and pop only really happens when you press the sport button and is mostly for show as the amount of cooling it provides is basically negligible. In essence, the ECU is wasting fuel and hurting the environment to provide a fun sound (Woot!). You can also make it louder/sharper by using a heavier manifold, but the more violent pops can damage the turbo impeller, the cat and the muffler over time.


RE: March of progress
By Spuke on 3/25/2013 2:16:05 PM , Rating: 1
Might be a function of DI on the pop and burbling, my Solstice does the same on deceleration. I think gear ratios have more to do with the Bimmers lower fuel economy than pops and burbles. Regardless, I just didn't expect that from the 135i especially since the 335i doesn't do that. I like that little bit of unrefinement. It adds to the enjoyment of driving. You would understand that being a Mini owner.


RE: March of progress
By Iaiken on 3/26/2013 12:29:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Might be a function of DI on the pop and burbling, my Solstice does the same on deceleration.


Nope, it's purely caused by the evacuation of a fueled cylinder without a spark into the hot manifold. The R53 Cooper S & JCW from 05-06 don't have direct injection and they burble and pop like crazy. Likewise, this can be added to the 02-05 R53's by virtue of an ECU update. What's more, since they are supercharged and there is no turbo impeller impeding the sound waves, it's much louder than in the new R56's.


RE: March of progress
By thenarcissist73 on 3/23/2013 5:18:23 AM , Rating: 2
I've driven an MK6 GTI for the past two years which contains a real DCT, and I wouldn't even consider another transmission type now. The traditional slushboxes with tiptronic modes I've tried have been uselessly slow compared to the millisecond shifts of a real DCT. I drive the GTI in the manual mode 100% of the time, to me it's the perfect mix of control and convenience.


RE: March of progress
By CZroe on 3/23/2013 5:22:06 PM , Rating: 2
Paddle shifter aren't an option for the cars younger first-time buyers will usually get (can't afford a luxury or performance sport). Until paddle shifters trickle down into even economy cars, a sporty car cheap enough for the intended millennial generation will need a manual for the same effect.


RE: March of progress
By steven975 on 3/25/2013 8:37:52 AM , Rating: 2
except most of the paddle-shifters are automatic transmissions.

paddle shifters on a sequential gearbox are superior, but this is the minority as most are torque-converter-equipped slushboxes.


RE: March of progress
By SSDMaster on 3/25/2013 12:02:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Paddle-shifters are far superior in virtually every way.


Lol, wow. They are only good at shifting up. Downshifting can take a considerable amount of time. They also cost more, and I would imagine are more expensive to fix. Maintenance is higher as well.

They are not limited as much as CVT's to the amount of torque you can add to the vehicle, but it would cost more to upgrade them past this point. Also, the programming may cause some issues in that scenario.

People who buy performance cars think about this sort of thing. And I just realized you don't know the difference between CVT and dual clutch transmissions... ugh. I'm not explaining that; do some freaking research you hippie.


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