My wife and I have two manual-transmission cars (although one of them is about to die due to body rust, just short of 250,000 miles). Increasingly, this means nobody can borrow them because fewer people learn, or remember, how to drive a manual transmission:
“Drive a manual transmission? I don’t think anybody does any more, to be honest,” said Jack Wedemeyer, who as owner of Jack’s Driving School has been teaching people to drive in Concord since 1983.This is an exaggeration, but not as big of one as you might think. Only a quarter of car and truck models sold in the U.S. today even offer a manual option, and their sales are dismal. According to analysis from the automotive firm Edmunds, a measly 3 percent of the vehicles sold in the country in 2015 had a stick shift, down from 25 percent in 1992.
The fading popularity of manual transmissions showed up on the front page of the Monitor last week as part of a crime story. A 20-year-old man tried to steal a car by threatening the driver with a knife but was caught because he couldn’t figure out how to drive its stick shift – thus bringing to life a joke that labels four-on-the-floor as the best millennial theft-prevention device.
That’s from my recent story about manual transmission, in which I actually found teenagers who can drive a stick shift! The story is here.