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Do Many Americans Know How to Drive a Manual Car?

Cars with manual transmissions get better fuel mileage, but when it comes to sales, they get left in the dust. While stick shifts began to fall out of favor decades ago, their decline has now hit desperate levels, according to a report from U.S. News and World Report. Just over 30 years ago, 25 percent of all car sales were manual-transmission vehicles. They now account for less than 5 percent of sales. Not surprisingly, the number of drivers who even know how to shift gears has also hit the skids, with current figures standing at 18 percent. At least part of the reason is probably because car makers are constantly improving their technologies, meaning the difference in fuel economy might now be a moot point. At least one car company appears to think so: As of 2019, the German automaker Audi is no longer offering American buyers any of its models with manual transmissions.

A manual about manual transmissions:

  • Some countries require you to pass your driving test in a car with a manual transmission if you want to be allowed to operate both stick shifts and automatics.
  • General Motors was the first auto company to offer a car with an automatic transmission: the 1940 Oldsmobile with Hydra-Matic.
  • Consumer Reports has said that manual cars are often priced as much as $12,000 USD less than a comparable automatic model.
Discussion Comments
By anon1002109 — On Sep 08, 2019

You forgot to mention that a lot of repair shops that do repair clutches -that third pedal on a standard transmission- refuse to work on the car if someone less than 25 will be the vehicle's primary driver.

By anon1002097 — On Sep 05, 2019

I think the lower torque engines need 6-8 speed transmissions to get good gas mileage; that's too much clutch work.

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