survey reveals surprising facts about manual transmissions

Chris Teague

Chris Teague

The Volkswagen Jetta is one of the models still sold with a manual transmission.

It’s National Stick Shift Day and while that has little consequence for a large swath of the population, there are still a fair amount of passionate manual transmission advocates out there.

According to Edmunds, in 2020 just 41 of the 327 new car models 13 percent) sold in the U.S. is offered with a manual transmission. A decade ago, 37 percent were sold with that style transmission. Why? Simply put, the demand isn’t there so automakers have stopped selling them. Also, automatic transmissions have gotten better generally offering better fuel economy than manuals.


The Mazda MX-5 Miata is famously sold with a six-speed manual transmission.Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations recently surveyed 500 adults to find out more about their history with the manual transmission and current driving habits.

Sixty percent of women and 84 percent of men surveyed said that they know how to drive a manual transmission. Most learned to drive it when they were young. Twelve percent learned before they were 15, 36 percent when they were high school aged, and 18 percent when they were college aged. Thirteen percent learned when they were over 40.

Moms are generally not the ones teaching manual transmission driving lessons. Thirty-seven percent were taught by their dad and 21 percent responded that a friend taught them or they were self-taught. Seventeen percent were taught by a driving instructor.

Most of the models offered with a manual transmission come from companies that produce products designed to be sold in Europe as well as the U.S. Five- and six-speeds are more popular across the pond. However, the influx of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles as a result of government regulation may be having the percentage of manual transmission drivers decreasing.

In the U.S., 23 percent of those surveyed that said they drive a manual transmission car own a BMW. Eleven percent drive a manual Toyota while nine percent were with Honda. Six percent of the audience drove a Ford or an Audi.

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