The number of automobiles sold with manual transmissions has slightly increased in recent years. They increased from less than one percent in 2021 to 1.7 percent in 2023 for all new car sales. The revival, while not a bursting renaissance, shows a change in consumer behaviour.
J.D. Power estimates that sales of manual gearbox vehicles hit a low of 0.9% in 2021 before increasing in 2022 and 2023. The biggest US shop for used cars, CarMax, reported a comparable rise. Sales of vehicles with manual transmissions rose to 2.8% in 2021 and 2.9% in 2022 after reaching a low of 2.4% in 2020. It’s interesting to note that the conventional argument for purchasing a handbook was to save money.
The revival is attributed to elements like nostalgia and a desire for a throwback experience, according to Ivan Drury, Director of Insights at Edmunds.com. Drury emphasises that learning to drive a manual car improves the driving experience and gives people a sense of control over their car. He drives a manual Mazda MX-5.
There is a limited but devoted demand for manual gearbox vehicles even though automakers don’t produce many of them. In addition to the driving experience, users may choose manual transmissions for other reasons. Given that they need the use of both hands, manual transmissions are seen by some parents as a strategy to discourage texting and driving, according to Mark Collier, Regional Vice President and General Manager at CarMax.
The most popular manual-transmission cars right now tend to be sportier variants. The Honda Civic sits at the top of the list, followed by the Jeep Wrangler, Ford Mustang, and Subaru WRX. Jettas and Golf Rs with manual transmissions sell out quickly at Volkswagen dealerships like Street VW in Amarillo, Texas, due to high demand.
The tendency does not, however, only apply to the most performance-oriented automobiles. In Southfield, Michigan, Michael Glassman of the Glassman Auto Group reported that his dealership got 46 Kia Fortes with stick transmissions and quickly sold 44 of them.
The return of manual transmissions provides a window into shifting customer preferences and the lasting allure of an engaging driving experience as the automotive landscape continues to change. Popular vehicles like the Supra and the 2024 Tacoma have lately gained or retained manual transmissions thanks to automakers like Toyota.