Where Did All the Manual Transmissions Go?! | WheelHouse


(fast-paced bongo beats) – Oh, wow. A white guy with facial hair on a car channel loves
manual transmissions. What an original premise. Hold on, hear me out for a minute. I learned to drive in a 1986 Ford Taurus that my grandpa gave me. It had a two-tone paint job and pretty much everything in it broke. It even caught on fire at one point. It had a five-speed manual
and it was fun as hell. But there’s a big problem. Manuals are going out of style. In 1992, about 25% of car buyers chose a manual transmission. 20 years go by and in 2012, that number fell to just 6.8%. In 2018, just 3.5% of buyers drove off the lot with a manual. As a result, car makers
started offering less cars with a manual option. In 2012, there were about 117 new cars you could buy with a stick shift. It’s not a lot, but not bad. In 2018, that number fell to just 85 cars. Still not great, but it could be worse. And it did get worse. In just one year, the number of cars with a 2019 model year that you can get with a manual is just 57. That’s a 33% drop. If the trend continues at this rate, manuals could be gone in two years. People are not happy about this. You can’t go into a
comment section of a video about a new car without seeing someone say would’ve been better with a manual. (overlapping voices) Would’ve
been better with a manual. (whispering) No stick, no buy. I’m gonna find you, Toyota. I’m gonna come into your
house and murder your dog. And you know what? I don’t blame them. Take the new Supra, the
highly anticipated followup to the legendary sports car. The Mark IV has a six-speed and this new one doesn’t.
(buzzer) What the hell, Toyota? Want another example? The BMW 330i will not have a stick shift in the US this year. This is sacrilege or is it? There’s a reason automakers
are putting an end to the manual transmission. It kinda sucks. Enter the continuously
variable transmission or CVT. They aren’t like other transmissions. They don’t really have gears. It’s more of a belt
drive with two pulleys. It’s kinda complicated
and I’m not that smart but the main advantages of a CVT are super smooth acceleration and improved fuel economy
over any type of transmission. I mean, the Williams F1 team
was testing a CVT back in 1993 and that’s when they were good. Sorry, that was low. So what would happen if an automaker actually built a sweet car with
a manual transmission today like people have been begging for? How ’bout a four-door sedan with a big V8, comfy seats, undercover
sleeper looks, and a six-speed? Well, that did happen. (funk music) The Chevrolet SS debuted
in the 2014 model year. They took a Holden
Commodore from Australia, put some Chevy badges on it,
tuned the suspension a little, and pretty much called it good. Critics freaking love this thing. Comparing it other sports
sedan’s legends like the E39 M5, a car that has been haunting
my dreams for months. I want one bad. Anyway, the SS was the stuff enthusiasts had been clamoring for. It had magnetic ride suspension, 450 horsepower, a six-speed manual, and, my favorite, cooled seats. The SS was set to be an instant classic. There’s only one problem. Nobody bought one. Over the SS’s four year production, just 12,860 of them were sold. Just for comparison, Chevy sold nearly 10 times as many Corvettes
in the same period of time, while Honda sold 1.4 million Civics, and Ford sold over three million F150s. Long story short, the SS was not a hit. Just for fun, I went
on CarMax to find an SS and to my surprise, there
were three of them for sale but none of them had the six-speed. I cried for half an hour. It doesn’t make financial sense
for them to build these cars if no one is gonna buy them. That’s just business. So, why aren’t people
buying manuals in the US? What makes this country different from the rest of the world? Besides automatics being smoother, there has to be a good reason, right? There are actually two. The first is easy, convenience. A lot of you probably daily a manual car so you know driving stick in heavy traffic is kind of a pain. But if you take your
car out on the weekends and hit the canyons, then the crappy-ness of having to deal with that
is just part of the game. But the average person
just isn’t like that. They’d rather get in their car and listen to Oprah
Winfrey’s Super Soul podcast and drop me off at baseball practice. The second reason is safety. Now I used to think that driving stick was the safest method because
it limits distractions. It’s hard to text and drive if you have to focus on your shifts. I personally believe that driving manual makes you a more focused driver. But it turns out, that’s not exactly true. A health science study at
Jonkoping University in Sweden found that older drivers
had better reaction times and make less mistakes
in cars with automatics. When you combine that with
the fact that the age group who buys the most new cars in the US, 35-54 year olds, it’s not hard to see why people
aren’t buying new manuals. Conversely, people aged 16-34 buy about half as many new
cars as the older group, if they buy a car at all. Companies are gonna listen
to who gives them money so new automatics are pretty
much better in every way. They’re more efficient,
safer for old people, and shift super fast. But just because it’s better
doesn’t mean the car is better. There’s something about driving stick that makes you feel more
connected to the car than an automatic ever could. And I’m not saying this to
talk down on auto drivers. If you have fun with your auto, that is totally valid. I’ve had a lot of fun in automatic cars. – [Zach] So you’re only saying that because you drive an auto. – No.
(door chime) That (bleep) Lamborghini was really fun. But I think a good analogy for
driving a manual is surfing. I grew up about half
an hour from the beach but never learned how to surf. But a few years ago, I
actually got a lesson and caught a few waves. And that’s when I got it. I understood why my friends would wake up at 4:30 in the morning to catch a swell. You’re both at the mercy of the ocean and totally connected. It’s a truly great feeling. That’s what driving stick feels like. If you’ve never learned,
I definitely suggest you get a friend or relative to each you ’cause it’s the best. So is the manual gonna die? Maybe in new cars. Also, electric is the future and those cars don’t
need transmissions, so meh. But as long as gear shifters are around, I’m sure there’ll be someone there to shift them. If this video gets
25,000 likes in 24 hours, I will chug a gallon of milk in an hour on a live stream. They say it’s impossible
but I don’t believe them, whoever they are. My nickname in youth baseball
was the Milk Man, okay? I can do it. Thanks for watching Wheel House. Follow me on Instagram @nolanjsykes, consider subscribing to Donut right here, watch last week’s episode
of Wheel House right here, and check out this episode ep-i-sa-do. You know you had that one friend that says he can drive stick. Share this video with people who need to learn to drive stick. Be nice, I’ll see you next time.