Manual Sales Are Still Dropping Overall, But Growing Where It Counts
We think that all drivers should learn how to operate a vehicle with a manual transmission. There is a feeling of mastery of the automobile that comes with knowing how to drive stick. If more people drove stick, we assume the number cars sold with a manual would be on the rise, but sadly, that's not the case. The percentage of cars sold with a manual is dropping—but there is still some good news. Automotive website iSeeCars routinely conducts studies that break down buyer behaviors. They conducted this study with direct input from BoldRide, putting the question to them, “Who drives a manual these days?” They analyzed nearly 10 million new car sales from 2014 and 2015 to tell us if we can actually #SaveTheManuals. RELATED: BMW M Cars May Lose Manuals in the Future
For the 2015 model year, the portion of the market buying new cars with a stick shift fell below two percent. Specifically, it fell to 1.96% in 2015, down from 2.02% in 2014. But while that translates into only about 196,000 out of 10 million, the interesting part is that the selection of a manual in some vehicle segments is on the rise.
Sports cars still make up the largest portion, at 21.7%, but that has fallen from 23.6% from 2014. But coupes are on the rise, up to 17.0%, from a percentage of 16.5% in 2014.
Hatchbacks also saw growth in number of manuals selected. It represented 12.5% of manuals, up from 10.6% in 2014. Sedans were the only other segment that saw manual percentage increase. The 2015 figure is at 2.4%, up from 2.2% in 2014.
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Hatchbacks are typically economy cars, and one of the few places where manuals are offered as bargain options, such as in the Nissan Versa. But in many other segments, such as sedans, coupes, and sports cars, manuals are offered as a value-add for enthusiasts. This is also true for some of the more premium hatchbacks, such as the Volkswagen GTI
The biggest drop in manual selection came in the convertible market, falling from 9.2% in 2014, to 4.7% in 2015. While some sports cars are convertibles, not all convertibles are sports cars, and drivers in this segment apparently now prefer convenience over driving fun.
Other segments that saw drops were wagons (falling from 2.8% to 2.3%), pickups (falling 0.3% to 0.2%), and SUVs (falling 0.1% to 0.0%). We wonder how much longer vehicles like the Nissan Xterra and Jeep Wrangler will still be offered with a manual with these dwindling numbers. If we are to #SaveTheManuals, folks have to start opting for new cars with stick shifts now.
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