I'm starting to get depressed about the automotive future

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Shadow
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I'm starting to get depressed about the automotive future

Post by Shadow » Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:56 pm

Like most of you, I've been dreading the demise of the manual transmission for quite some time now. And gladly, there are still many choices out there for people who want to buy a car with a clutch pedal. But Audi no longer offers any cars with manual transmissions. BMW even stopped offering their popular 3-series cars with manual transmissions, although the next generation M3 is rumored to retain the manual transmission option.

Anyway, things look even worse with the rising popularity of EVs. I just can't believe how many Tesla Model 3s I see in my area. They are literally everywhere. And of course this seems to be signaling the end of the line for not only manual transmission cars, but ICE cars in general. I've recently had the opportunity to drive a Model 3 and the thing was amazingly quick for sure. The torque is simply outrageous. Instant and hard hitting. So in that respect, it can be a fun car. But my Audi is still MUCH more fun to drive overall. The experience is completely different. The sound, the feel, shifting thru the gears up and down, the handling and dynamics of the car are so much better in my car. This is what saddens me. I don't see the rise of the EVs declining. So hold on to your ICE cars with your manual transmissions as long as you can because I really do believe they are going to get harder and harder to find and it's not going to be long before that really starts happening. For me, I'm considering buying a few more cars and building my own "fleet" of cars that I'll keep into our electric future.
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Re: I'm starting to get depressed about the automotive future

Post by AHTOXA » Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:06 pm

I've always been a fan of the manuals and I've driven them for a long time. Up until a few years ago I didn't even consider buying a new car if it wasn't automatic. And that hurt my selection big time.

But things have changed, and I was forced to change with them. Now, I've not abandoned my love of manuals, but I've adapted to the reality. The problem for me is that vehicles I like as daily drivers are simply not available with a manual transmission. I prefer driving SUVs and trucks and while there are some exceptions like the Wrangler and now the Gladiator (and maybe midsize trucks still come in manual in some guise?) almost everything is sold solely with automatics. Limiting myself to lower level trims or even ruling out vehicles because of transmission choice simply did not make sense to me. It's a compromise I was forced to me, and frankly, I don't hate it as there are too many upsides to the selection.

As long as ICE is still sold, there will be classes of ICE cars that will offer a manual. These will include sports cars, sporty cars and enthusiast cars and the occasional SUV such as the Wrangler. That's sufficient to me, because if I were buying a sporty or an enthusiast car, I'd get a manual without hesitation. I do not have to have every car with a manual option and I'm OK driving a daily that I really like if it has an automatic. In summary, right selection of vehicle allows me to enjoy many other aspects that are tied into the vehicle choice, starting with the vehicle itself and ending with what that vehicles does for me - where it gets me and what experiences I derive from that.

Like everything in life, there's a compromise that I had to make, and in this case, it works for me. In the meantime, I still enjoy a manual in the form of one in my motorcycle and I still mentally scoff at the automatic motorcycles, of which thankfully there are very, very few. I rode a DCT box in a Honda NC700 and it was...a disgusting experience.
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Re: I'm starting to get depressed about the automotive future

Post by tankinbeans » Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:56 pm

My problem ends up being that I can't kit up a car the way I'd like with a manual. Lately, I've been attempting to build a list of cars to look at when my lease expires. There are only two that can be kitted up the way I want with a manual, the Compass and the WRX.

I'd like a sunroof, heated seats, AWD, a color and a manual. I can get most of the way there with an Impreza, but the sunroof forces me into a CVT and that's not going to happen. I can get all the way there with the WRX, but the interior is garbage. The Compass can be kitted up the way I want, but I don't need a CUV. Found that out when I grew bored of the Escape.

My options open up if I do without AWD. For example the Accord Sport can be had with all of my wants minus the AWD.

Of course the options open up even more if I can deal with automatics. I don't pretend to be a master manual driver, but I enjoy them. The ZF8 I had in the Chrysler was smooth and pretty well excellent, but other parts of the car bugged me too much. The auto in mom's Mazda3 is pretty good even if it holds gears longer than I'd like.

Lomg story short, I agree about the bleakness of the landscape and have to make some decisions about what I truly want.

One option, of course, is buying the lease out. Have yet to find something truly compelling.
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Re: I'm starting to get depressed about the automotive future

Post by IMBoring25 » Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:32 am

I never saw myself having a Mopar or an HD diesel but availability of manuals has pushed me there. Not a fan of the extra maintenance or complexity or the gross overkill for 99% of my driving, but it is what it is until something else catches my eye.

Holding my breath the Bronco looks good, is reasonably priced, indeed comes with the seven-speed, and my ire with Ford over my wife's PowerShift has subsided by then.

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Re: I'm starting to get depressed about the automotive future

Post by blauenlanze » Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:24 am

It's funny you post this Shadow, since I too have been feeling the same way about trying to find a new car with a stick shift. With the C8 Corvette launch tonight, another performance car no longer offers manual transmission.

I see you drive an Audi A5, can I suggest the BMW 2 series? Along with the 4 series, it's the last German coupe to offer a manual here. I have the M240i and it's driven great. You have about 2 more years to grab one until the next-gen BMW G48 2 series comes out, which is very likely not to have a manual seeing the platform and drivetrain options in the new 3 series and Z4.

Searching for cars that fit my categories of sporty, manual, and has safety features like blind spot detection leaves a very short list - I've accepted that there's a high chance for me the car will be my last manual. It seems like the main cars in my class are the 2 series (pedestrian detection, blind spot, etc. added for 2019 or 2020), Mazda3 hatch, or Miata. Most other cars are not sporty enough (Accord 2.0T no longer has coupe, Civic does not have Honda Sensing on the Civic Si/Type R, even though Europe gets it on the Type R, etc.), or don't have the technology features.

I think we have to accept that a large majority of manual drivers did so for cost, performance, reliability, and fuel economy, and only a tiny amount for the experience. Thus from 2009 to 2019, we went from about 10% manual to 2% manual and lower. A huge number of continuing manual drivers are older too and have done so their entire life. Finally, the SUV trend in the United States also works against it. It's no coincidence that small cars are 5% of the US sales while 45% of Italy's sales, and Italy has some super high manual take rates.

I even got so bored as to compile a list of manual transmission take rates by vehicle model, and there are only 4-5 that are majority manual or close to. The delimiting factor seems to be a 7 speed + auto. IMO, the cars that will continue to offer a manual well into their next generation include Subaru WRX (88%), Subaru BRZ (86%), Mazda Miata (66% in soft top), Toyota 86 (66%), VW Golf R (61%). Even cars like the GTI are near 50/50. BMWs that offer manuals see miniscule take rates except the M2. The Corvette had 17% manuals and still then GM axed it. Economy cars are all in the mid to high single digits.

Manuals that are gone for 2020: Cadillac ATS-V, Ford Focus RS, Ford Focus ST, Ford Fiesta ST, Shelby GT350 (to be replaced by a dual clutch GT500), Jaguar F Type (less than 1% were manual), Chevrolet Corvette.

In my mind, I've accepted that in a single decade or so of getting my license, manuals went from objectively superior and the way to go, to going to almost disappear in another decade. It's just life. I will probably be driving a fun sporty plug in hybrid or electric coupe down the road. It's funny because of 5 people in this thread, there are almost as many different preferences and market segments, and catering to niche vehicles is increasingly difficult in an age where centralized money needs to be spent on developing each new model and certifying it for all regulations. BMW for instance is going with one CLAR platform that can hopefully be used for all purposes - things like the Honda S2000 single purpose built platform and drivetrain are not likely now. I'm actually more concerned with car culture in general, the declining interest, and cultural/societal pushes against automobiles - a lot of people around me went from owning enthusiast cars to never driving at all except on vacations. It's almost a surprise when I meet someone my age who has a car. However, I think manuals will survive in significant quantities (at least one model offered with > 1,000/year annual sales) for at least another decade in the US. The segment where it is likely to stay the most alive are the muscle/pony cars and the small lower-cost ultra-enthusiast ones like the WRX/BRZ segment.

On the bright side, one can enjoy a greater variety of (rare) manual vehicles with peer to peer rentals like on Turo, whereas rental agencies haven't carried manual vehicles for a long time in the US. This also lets people who might have a weekend car that's a manual rent it out, make owning it more affordable. Similarly, the post-2009 horsepower wars have result in some insanely cheap and powerful cars for us, many of which offer manuals, especially in the muscle/pony car segment.
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Re: I'm starting to get depressed about the automotive future

Post by Shadow » Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:55 am

AHTOXA wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:06 pm
I've always been a fan of the manuals and I've driven them for a long time. Up until a few years ago I didn't even consider buying a new car if it wasn't automatic. And that hurt my selection big time.

But things have changed, and I was forced to change with them. Now, I've not abandoned my love of manuals, but I've adapted to the reality. The problem for me is that vehicles I like as daily drivers are simply not available with a manual transmission. I prefer driving SUVs and trucks and while there are some exceptions like the Wrangler and now the Gladiator (and maybe midsize trucks still come in manual in some guise?) almost everything is sold solely with automatics. Limiting myself to lower level trims or even ruling out vehicles because of transmission choice simply did not make sense to me. It's a compromise I was forced to me, and frankly, I don't hate it as there are too many upsides to the selection.

As long as ICE is still sold, there will be classes of ICE cars that will offer a manual. These will include sports cars, sporty cars and enthusiast cars and the occasional SUV such as the Wrangler. That's sufficient to me, because if I were buying a sporty or an enthusiast car, I'd get a manual without hesitation. I do not have to have every car with a manual option and I'm OK driving a daily that I really like if it has an automatic. In summary, right selection of vehicle allows me to enjoy many other aspects that are tied into the vehicle choice, starting with the vehicle itself and ending with what that vehicles does for me - where it gets me and what experiences I derive from that.

Like everything in life, there's a compromise that I had to make, and in this case, it works for me. In the meantime, I still enjoy a manual in the form of one in my motorcycle and I still mentally scoff at the automatic motorcycles, of which thankfully there are very, very few. I rode a DCT box in a Honda NC700 and it was...a disgusting experience.
I hear what you're saying and I agree. I also own a Jeep Grand Cherokee that I drive fairly often and very often in the winter. So I'm not against automatic transmissions in the least, as long as I have at least one manual transmission car to drive.

BTW, have you seen that Harley is coming out with an all-electric motorcycle. And of course there are other electric motorcycles as well. A guy I work with went on a test ride and he liked it. Still seems strange to me and I don't know how people will react to an electric Harley. Who knows, maybe it will open up a whole new demographic for them.
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Re: I'm starting to get depressed about the automotive future

Post by Shadow » Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:59 am

tankinbeans wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:56 pm
My problem ends up being that I can't kit up a car the way I'd like with a manual. Lately, I've been attempting to build a list of cars to look at when my lease expires. There are only two that can be kitted up the way I want with a manual, the Compass and the WRX.

I'd like a sunroof, heated seats, AWD, a color and a manual. I can get most of the way there with an Impreza, but the sunroof forces me into a CVT and that's not going to happen. I can get all the way there with the WRX, but the interior is garbage. The Compass can be kitted up the way I want, but I don't need a CUV. Found that out when I grew bored of the Escape.

My options open up if I do without AWD. For example the Accord Sport can be had with all of my wants minus the AWD.

Of course the options open up even more if I can deal with automatics. I don't pretend to be a master manual driver, but I enjoy them. The ZF8 I had in the Chrysler was smooth and pretty well excellent, but other parts of the car bugged me too much. The auto in mom's Mazda3 is pretty good even if it holds gears longer than I'd like.

Lomg story short, I agree about the bleakness of the landscape and have to make some decisions about what I truly want.

One option, of course, is buying the lease out. Have yet to find something truly compelling.
So if I were in your shoes, I'd most definitely give up on some of the options rather than giving up on the manual transmission. For example, if I had to give up on a sunroof or heated seats in exchange of getting a manual, so be it. I just wouldn't be happy with that sunroof or those heated seats if they are attached to a car with an automatic. But I do hear what you're saying---it's often that the manual versions of today's cars don't offer all the options and that sucks for sure.
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Re: I'm starting to get depressed about the automotive future

Post by watkins » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:15 am

IMBoring25 wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:32 am
I never saw myself having a Mopar or an HD diesel but availability of manuals has pushed me there. Not a fan of the extra maintenance or complexity or the gross overkill for 99% of my driving, but it is what it is until something else catches my eye.
Except the Ram manual is over. With the absolutely absurd power numbers from the modern Cummins, getting a manual with a strong enough clutch to fit in to a reasonably sized vehicle just isnt easy. Im sure the sales numbers werent worth the effort of keeping it around either.

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Re: I'm starting to get depressed about the automotive future

Post by IMBoring25 » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:55 am

Yeah, it's over now. I didn't want to sock 50 grand at it...Mine's an '08.

In horse and livestock circles, I've seen a disproportionate number of Rams, with a disproportionate number of those being Cummins/six-speed units. Maybe most of the sales are going to hotshot services who are having a tough time finding competent drivers and to bubba truck buyers who don't want the stick, but they did definitely turn their back on what appeared to be a loyal market segment.

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Re: I'm starting to get depressed about the automotive future

Post by watkins » Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:24 pm

The Cummins is by far the best of the Big Three diesel engines available. The reliability and longevity are unmatched. As is the fuel economy, for those who care. I feel like those are the types of people who do care, which is why they opt for the manual.

At my last job we used to service tons of car transport companies' East Coast run Rams. Always 3500s with the beds removed. Always with absurd odometer readings.

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Re: I'm starting to get depressed about the automotive future

Post by Rope-Pusher » Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:00 pm

Back when ram became the only Amish full sized pick m up, they may have sold a few more, but truck buyers are brand loyal , so maybe availability of Mt wasn't enough to draw sales from Ford or Chevy. For the next 3 years Mt sales dropped each year. That was the nail in the coffin for Cummins ram Mt.
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