Electric vehicles outsold manual transmissions in the U.S. last quarter

1.9 percent of buyers chose an EV, 1.1 percent chose to shift gears. Ouch

Every OEM obligated to get in on the battery-electric game has publicly groused about how hard it will be to make money on EVs. The refrain is merely one line, that being there isn't nearly enough demand to justify the developmental expense. BMW's head of development, Klaus Frölich, was among the most recent to espouse the view when he told Australian site CarSales in June, "There is no customer requests for BEVs. There are regulator requests for BEVs."

Imagine, then, how dire the situation is for the manual transmission — Old Faithful to hardcore enthusiasts — now that J.D. Power data showed EVs outsold cars with clutch pedals in the U.S. in the third quarter. reports that once the final numbers were tallied, 1.9 percent of buyers went the electric route, while 1.1 percent of buyers chose one of the few vehicles left on the market that requires hands-on for cog-swapping.

J.D. Power executive Tyson Jominy told the outlet in an e-mail that "the discontinuation of many compact and subcompact sedans where manuals were purchased primarily as a lower cost of entry to a new vehicle" accounted for a portion of the downturn. Then he kicked the transmission while it was down, writing that after only a decade in the mainstream, "EVs were able to surpass last century’s dying technology."

With demand down to one percent, we should be impressed that there are any manual transmissions available on any car that isn't hand-built at some seven-figure cost. People who like to shift know how to make a lot of noise about shifting, it seems. Nevertheless, even with additions to the ranks like the Kia Forte GT and Aston Martin Vanquish, the manual transmission dead pool keeps shrinking thanks to wholesale losses like the BMW 3 Series, Chevrolet Corvette, and Mazda6, and reduced availability on models like the 2020 Porsche 911. Jominy's advice to certain gearheads was to "get your affairs in order and run to a dealership."

Or you could dip into the used car market in El Paso, Texas: CarMax data says that city leads the nation for buying used stickshifts with 6.09-percent take-rate.

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