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The Manual Transmission Is Close To Extinction

And that’s a bad thing
Leo Shvedsky
September 08 2021
The majestic gear shift: Shutterstock

The electrification of cars is coming. There is no stopping it now and even the most ardent skeptics are seeing the need for, and the overall benefits of electric cars. To that end, at least, it’s a very good thing; we need to find another way to propel cars from place to place. Plus, the increased performance doesn’t really hurt the enthusiast in us. Some of the latest EV sports offerings even promise staggering speeds. 

However, this change comes at the cost of losing something many may consider a nuisance and say good riddance, but we consider an important part of the car and car culture – the manual transmission. The switch to electric is like the meteor hurtling straight towards the dinosaurs - the dinosaurs being the little shaft and clutch that you use to shift gears, free from the tyranny of forced transmission. However, for those who pine for the romance and nostalgia of feeling the gears click beneath your feet, we urge you not to despair.

Another beauty: Shutterstock

And for those who say, ‘Okay, boomer, why exactly should we mourn the loss of a thing that has plagued so many for so long? I mean who still likes to drive stick if they can avoid it?’ Well, first, I’m a card-carrying millennial, but mainly, the reasons are two-fold: 

One, the sheer of sense accomplishment and feeling of being able to drive stick cannot be underestimated. And two, a manual transmission is not just built to make your dad gasp and grind his teeth while he is teaching you the ropes, it is to have more control over the engine’s output to the drive train. That is why, even now, some manufacturers are working on developing transmissions for all electric vehicles that are more than one gear. The manual transmission is just an extension of being able to place the ability to put power to use when you need it.  

Take Porsche, for instance. Its two-gear transmission on the all-electric Taycan recently beat the Tesla Model S in a straight line drag race. That is not because Porsche had a better engine or was lighter. It was because the Porsche was better able to manage its output in first gear before switching to second gear, whereas the Tesla, pushing all its power out in one gear, was not as efficient.

Courtesy of Top Gear

The Porsche transmission is still technically automatic, but it does prove an important point about having the ability to control the power coming out of the engine. Now just imagine being able to put that power to use in any way you see fit!  

Look, I get it. It’s an uphill battle for the stick shift even it does definitely build character (a lot of grueling nights sputtering out in the high school parking lot will do that to you) and improve performance. The fact is that more and more people are moving away from manual transmissions. Used car retailer Carmax reported that sales of manual transmission cars dipped dramatically in the past few years.

Courtesy of CARMAX

But that’s not going to stop us dreamers from dreaming! As high strung driving instructors as our witnesses we will go on! And a recent article from Motor Trend has some pretty good ideas of how that can happen. We support any and all attempts, and while the stick as you know it will forever go the way of the dodo, we’re hopeful something equally wonderful will rise up to take its place.



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