It seems that as automotive tech continues to progress, options that were once staples are now going the way of the dinosaur. CD players, window cranks, even cars running on fossil fuels have already or are soon becoming a thing of the past. Next up on the chopping block sadly, the manual transmission. VW announced the 2024 is the last GTI that will have a manual, and BMW has stated the M2 will be the last M car with a clutch pedal. It’s a dying breed, but if we think about it, should we be concerned?
Manual Transmission's End: Is It Worth Our Attention?
The M2 Will Be The Last M Car With A Clutch Pedal
A Manual Transmission Signified You Were Part Of The Elite
There was once a time when having a manual transmission signified you were part of the elite. You did more to drive a car rather than just steer. There was also a good reason for it before, as automatic transmission technology was no where near as pleasant of a driving experience as you could get with a manual. Manuals always had the edge because you could shift more accurately and drive so much faster. But as technology got better, so did automatics. Now they’re at the point where manufacturers feel manuals are slower, less efficient, and simply from an engineering standpoint just weren’t optimal for performance. Launching a car, which was an advantage of manuals, is no longer as much of a detriment to automatics with the advent of launch control. Now you can have all the chaotic launching fun, by the press of a button and holding down the brake and gas pedals.
Faster And More Efficient
As car enthusiasts, we've hit a crossroads. On one hand, you could get the automatic, which is technically faster and more precise with faster shifts and better times. On the other, you have the joy of shifting gears yourself, albeit not as quick, but with the joy of more engagement. It’s essentially two opposing forces of being into cars. When you are told something can be faster and more efficient, it sounds great right? So if that means ditching the manual, isn’t that something we inherently want to replace as well? On paper it makes sense if we want to go fast, we should opt for the transmission that allows that. But then we have the small army of enthusiasts who are hoping that the manual will stick around. A choice few that just can’t let go, as if we are trained to crave using the third pedal and rowing gears ourselves. Why can’t we give it up?
Enthusiasts Still Want To Buy Manuals
We’re definitely the minority, and the sales figures show this. In 2021, manual cars were less than 1% of the market. In 2022, it went to 1.2% in 2022, and in 2023 made it to 1.7%. Enthusiasts and younger people are purposefully seeking out the DIY transmission. Not simply because it was the only or cheapest option. In fact, outside of the US it’s oftentimes more expensive to purchase a manual. We seek them out because of the joy they bring. Despite manufacturers seemingly colluding to kill off the manuals, there are a few bastions of hope that continuously feed us heritage loving folks.
Manual Transmission Is On Borrowed Time
At the end of the day, it definitely still feels the manual-transmission is on borrowed time. Even though we are trying to hold on, the fast approaching EV revolution may make things a little more difficult moving forward. I know that I’ll be hanging on to my manual GTI for as long as possible.