Two trends reveal some significant shifts underway in the American automotive market: EVs are now outselling cars with manual transmissions.
- Demand for cars with stick shifts plunged to just 1.1 percent of the market last quarter
- EVs made up 1.6 percent of the market during the same period
- Manuals will keep losing ground as fewer products are offered, while EVs will become more commonplace
If you’re a dues-paying member of the Save the Manual Club you may want to get a new car with a manual transmission while there’s still time. With fewer and fewer vehicles equipped with stick shifts offered each year, they’re steadily fading into oblivion, according to new data from J.D. Power and Associates.
At the same time, demand for battery-electric vehicles is beginning to show some signs of momentum as more new products – like the Audi e-tron, Ford Mustang Mach-E and Porsche Taycan – come to market. For the third-quarter of 2019, BEVs made up 1.6 percent of U.S. new vehicle sales compared to just 1.1 percent for products with a manual, the first time electrics took the lead.
The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray abandons its stick in favor of an eight-speed DCT. (Photo: General Motors)
The manual transmission “is going away,” said Chris Li, a senior director at JDPA, even as battery-cars finally begin to gain some traction.
Clearly there are those who still like to row their own, Manuals providing more of a visceral link to a vehicle, especially when it comes to performance models. Porsche offered a bit of a boost by announcing it will offer a manual option on the 2020 911 Carrera line. But both the new C8 Corvette and Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 opt for DCTs, rather than manual.
The reality is that with more gears, overdrive and lock-up torque converters today’s automatics have inverted the traditional argument for sticking with a manual: improved performance and fuel economy. The transmission in the 2020 GT500, notes Mustang Chief Engineer Carl Widmer, can shift in as little as 80 milliseconds – “Less than the time it takes to get a clutch pedal fully depressed.”
WHY THIS MATTERS
With only one exception, those battery-cars now on sale or soon coming to market rely on single-speed gearboxes. (The Porsche Taycan has a two-speed automatic on one axle.) So, the slow but inexorable rise of the EV could ensure the demise of the manual transmission.