Imminent Death To Manuals: Who’s To Blame?

Interesting | September 5th, 2015 by 7
bmw m4 manual transmission 05 750x500

It has been reported several times over the past few years that manuals are dead. Yet, the manuals are still alive and kicking, running everything …

It has been reported several times over the past few years that manuals are dead. Yet, the manuals are still alive and kicking, running everything from trucks to sedans to high-performance supercars in some cases.

But their death is imminent. No matter what we may do or want, the age of the manual is slowly decaying and leaving place for highly complicated and intelligent transmissions. Recent years saw a bit of a manual renaissance, but it’s still just a drop in the bucket of transmission choices.

2012 bmw 3 series 461 750x562

In 1987, 29.1% of new vehicles sold in the U.S. were coming with a manual transmission, according to the EPA. By 2010, however, the rate of manual transmission acquisition had fallen to just 3.8%. But, who is to blame for this? There are several reasons.

1. Engine Development

Fuel efficient engines work perfectly with automatic transmissions. With the advent of new turbocharged engines, the era of fuel efficient motoring really begun and part of that can be attributed to the automatic transmission. From eco-friendly driving modes and fuel efficient settings to the smoother power delivery, the cars now get better fuel economy.

2. CO2 Levels

Most of today’s automatic transmission solutions help save fuel and lower CO2 emissions, therefore, in most BMW cars picking a fuel saver mode over a sport mode brings best of both worlds: fuel efficiency and ecologically friendly driving. Want to save fuel? Just pick a setting on the automatic transmission. Want to achieve better 0-62mph times? Pick the Sport mode and have fun. It’s that easy.

3. Ease of use

Automatic transmissions are definitely best experienced in a busy city driving scenarios and the truth is that consumers simple love them.  From stop-and-go traffic to parking and highway cruising, the auto gearboxes are also best for less experienced drivers.

4. Fuel Economy

In the early days of automatic transmission, it was evident, in most examples, that manuals yielded better fuel economy, but  newer automatic transmissions have reverted that thinking. Boxes like the ZF eight-speed are often awarded for their great fuel efficiency and smooth delivery of power, and they have found a home in many premium cars, including BMWs.

5. Performance

Most, if not all BMW models, are currently faster from 0-62mph in automatic transmission-powered vehicles leading to easier acceleration, downshifting and cornering twisty roads. Going completely automatic is not that appealing to many high-performance drivers, but newer cars offer shift paddles on the steering wheel which gives you the option to shift at your own pace in a semi-automated mode.

6. Playstation Generation

The Y generation. Call us Millenials, call us what you please, but we are spoiled little brats that like to take the easy way out. We are used to the Playstation controllers and swift shifts of in-game selections, or often, we don’t know how to virtually drive in any video game without having the gears changed for us. So we can extrapolate to the real world and see how video games can influence our behavior in the real world.

7 responses to “Imminent Death To Manuals: Who’s To Blame?”

  1. john d says:

    Been driving BMW’s for 15 years. Never had problems handling the third pedal in city driving.
    BMW’s pedal cluth are well weighted. Or I am superman ;-)

  2. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) says:

    I won’t miss them.

  3. Kaisuke971 says:

    People that don’t buy them.

  4. Orson7 says:

    I won’t consider a performance car that doesn’t come in a manual. Comparing an original M car to the latest ones is like comparing a Stradivarius to a drum machine. I don’t need a 4500 lb arcade console that can read me my twitter and do push button launches. Are they faster, safer, and take very little skill to master? Sure, but they’ve given up a lot. BMW should continue offering low volume manual driver’s car like the 1M. They’re offered less and less, and so now the older M cars are appreciating in value. Maybe in 20 years time, the young drivers from now will pine for the days when you at least drove your own car.

  5. steven75 says:

    I went from a 5 speed manual to a car that doesn’t have a transmission at all: i3. Best of everything instant torque at any speed (therefore also most fun) and by far the simplest to use.

    So while I would loath a traditional automatic transmission, I can’t really morn the loss of manuals either since NO transmission is the clear winner in my mind.

  6. Michael Christopher Frazier IV says:

    who’s to blame? technology.

  7. Nigel Pepper says:

    Living in the US for 2 years, I have yet to drive anything with a manual transmission out here. A trip to Germany a few weeks ago reminded me exactly what I was missing. There is something so satisfying about executing a series of near perfect heel-n-toe downshifts which just can’t be matched, however crackly the exhaust, in a flappy paddle equipped car. I strongly suspect we’ll continue to see manual transmissions for the remainder of this generation. The one after won’t care, and we’ll be dead, so who gives a shit.

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