More People Are Buying Cars with Manual Transmission on Purpose
According to the Wall Street Journal, approximately 18% of Americans can drive a car with a manual transmission. Although automatic transmission was invented in 1921, it did not go fully mainstream until the 1980s. From there, it completely overtook the market for stick-shift cars. By 2020, approximately 2.4% of all new cars were manual, and learning how to drive a car with a manual transmission these days is seen as more of a flex than a necessity.
But despite these changes in the market, automakers are still producing stick-shift vehicles for this niche market. However, researchers believe that the stick shift is making a gradual comeback with a noticeable increase in sales.
According to J.D. Power, vehicles equipped with a manual transmission have accounted for 1.7% of all new sales in 2023. That is a larger increase from 1.2% in 2022, and 0.9% in 2021.
CarMax also reports that there has been a rise in deliveries for manual transmission vehicles. In 2020, they consisted of 2.4% of dealership chain sales. However, the demand for stick shift saw an increase in 2021 at 2.8%, and again in 2022 at 2.9%.
At one point, many buyers would purchase a car with manual transmission due to it being priced slightly less than that of a model with an automatic transmission. However, today’s pricing data suggests that this is no longer the primary motive for a stick shift.
Who Is Buying Cars with Manual Transmission?
Part of this rise in interest for stick shifts is seen largely among customers in their 20s who are very involved in auto culture. They admire them due to the nostalgia factor that comes with a manual transmission, as well as the enhanced riding experience and amount of control felt while behind the wheel.
The most popular vehicle with a stick shift is the Honda Civic, followed by the Ford Mustang, Subaru WRX, Jeep Wrangler (favored among off-roaders), Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Focus, VW Jetta, and Dodge Challenger.
Today, the stick shift community is small, yet mighty. Many dealers will attest that the demand for cars with manual transmission has risen enough that many units are sold as soon as they arrive on the lot.
But many parents will joke that they will intentionally purchase a car with manual transmission because it requires the use of both hands, and they don’t want their teenage sons and daughters using it.