Sales of manual-transmission cars downshifted once again in 2019, dropping to just 1.1 percent of all new-vehicle sales in the U.S. For an idea of just how lowly that share of the market is, electric vehicles grabbed 1.6 percent, equating to about 270,000 sales. Those figures were highlighted at Green Car Reports, which sourced its data from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network (PIN).
Americans have been drifting away from stick-shift cars for years, but the inflection point where EVs are outselling them paints the trend in stark terms. After all, sure, Teslas are popular and electric vehicles are gaining ever-more mainstream traction, but they remain outliers in a gasoline-fueled and—apparently—automatically shifted market. On trend with their sales decline, manual-transmission vehicles have been disappearing from automakers’ lineups; in 2020, your options for a stick-shift vehicle have dwindled mightily.
We find it interesting that while manual-transmission car purchases fade to nearly nonexistent, public concern over distracted driving keeps rising. Our contribution to that conversation is the reminder that it is remarkably difficult to handle a stick-shift car while also texting or otherwise fiddling around on one’s phone. Working a clutch pedal in addition to a throttle and a brake, along with a shift lever, to control a vehicle’s speed inherently forces drivers to concentrate harder, but it also is hugely fun and rewarding. Too bad that experience is getting harder and harder to come by—assuming it’s even sought out—for most car buyers.