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Why don't more people drive stick shifts?

The demand for manual transmissions has dropped...but why? Our Why Guy explains.

ATLANTA — Driving a manual transmission vehicle has become a dying art as fewer car manufacturers produce them and fewer young drivers are learning on them.


Ashley Carter is among the young drivers who learned on an automatic transmission.

“Teaching your daughter to drive is already stressful,” says Carter. “My parents were like, we’re going to teach you to drive an automatic.”

The development of the automatic transmission eliminated the need for drivers to work the clutch and stick shift. For a while, there were still advantges to a manual transmission. Many drivers preferred them because they made a car more fuel efficient.

That’s no longer the case.

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“Fuel economy is pretty much the same between automatic transmission and stick shift,” says Ed Turner, owner of Mall Of Georgia Indian Motorcycle. “The computer systems and the technology has come along.”

Turner’s dealership sells the Polaris Slingshot, a unique three-wheeled vehicle that he will use to teach young drivers how to drive a manual transmission.

Because demand for manual transmissions has dropped, manufacturers can save effort and money by eliminating that as an option.

"It requires a whole different process to build a manual transmission,” says Brian Moody, Executive Editor at Autotrader. “The number of enthusiasts wanting a manual transmission isn’t high enough to make it worth the manufacturer building both options.”

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“Resale value also comes into play,” says Larry Hawkins of the Metro Atlanta Automobile Dealers Association. “Most people want an automatic if they drive in Atlanta, so that drives down the price of the manual.”

Still, there are some who like the feel and performance of a stick shift.

“It’s just a lot of fun to drive,” says Turner. “One of our sayings is you grin from gear to gear.”

While they may not be as popular as they once were…there are drivers who have found reasons to stick with what they like.

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