Animal’s Daily Manual Transmission News

A manual transmission?

Before we start, check out the final episode of Legionnaire over at Glibertarians!

The Atlantic’s Ian Bogost recently chronicled the upcoming end of manual transmissions.  Excerpt:

In 2000, more than 15 percent of new and used cars sold by the auto retailer CarMax came with stick shifts; by 2020, that figure had dropped to 2.4 percent. Among the hundreds of new car models for sale in the United States this year, only about 30 can be purchased with a manual transmission. Electric cars, which now account for more than 5 percent of car sales, don’t even have gearboxes. There are rumors that Mercedes-Benz plans to retire manuals entirely by the end of next year, all around the world, in a decision driven partly by electrification; Volkswagen is said to be dropping its own by 2030, and other brands are sure to follow. Stick shifts have long been a niche market in the U.S. Soon they’ll be extinct.

I’ve always kind of liked a manual transmission myself, especially in a truck, for reasons I’ll go into in a moment.  First, though:  I’m not surprised by the car companies decreasing the availability of manual transmissions.  In today’s market, with plenty of folks increasing their dependency on technology, it’s no shock that the demand for manual transmissions is dropping off.  I suspect that this is the reason for the various auto manufacturers dropping manual transmissions; there likely just isn’t a lot of demand.

The one vehicle we have here in the Great Land is a newer (2017) Ford Expedition, Mrs. Animal’s primary vehicle.  It has an automatic transmission, which was the only thing available, but for Mrs. Animal’s primary vehicle, that’s as must be in any case, as she has neurological damage and chronic pain issues on her left side that make operating a clutch difficult.

But my last pickup, the inestimable Rojito, now in the able care of loyal sidekick Rat, was not only manual transmission but manual everything, and I liked that – so does Rat, for that matter.  It remains to be seen what I’ll be able to score for a new pickup here in the Great Land, as the needs will be different – a small, somewhat underpowered pickup like the 1999 Ranger won’t work for the towing/camper hauling chores we have in mind here.

I do like a manual transmission on a truck, either way.  I like having more direct control over the RPM range of the motor, especially when climbing, towing, off-roading or even descending hills, especially when towing.  Also I just plain enjoy driving a manual transmission.  It adds to the driving experience in some intangible manner.

Still.  The auto manufacturers are reacting to the market.  I’m an outlier.  In this, as in many other things, I’ve had to accept being in a market minority.