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The Dying Art of Manual Driving

Among the diehard motoring fanatics, manual driving has been a fundamental component of one’s driving abilities. Even then, it offers a level of authenticity that you just don’t get when the car does all the work for you! After all, there has always been something about those perfectly-timed gear changes that just resulted in a sense of self-satisfaction.

However, much like a lot of things, especially in today’s day and age, a ‘trend’ doesn’t necessarily stay in vogue. At least if something more convenient and simple takes over. It doesn’t matter how much more authentic manual driving might feel to the masses, because the masses quite frankly don’t care.

What is surprisingly, however, is that they also don’t seem to care about the prospect of some handy savings on the up-front price of a manual vehicle either. Although that could have something to do with the fact that selling a second-hand manual car on the market these days is becoming more difficult than it otherwise should be.

Where do manual cars stand in the market today?

While manual car sales remain resilient throughout many European countries, it’s a vastly different proposition down under. In fact, cars with manual transmission have accounted for a diminishing portion of all new car sales over a long time, and it doesn’t help that more and more manufacturers are turning their backs on manuals when releasing their latest models.

Now accounting for well under 10% of all new car sales in Australia, it appears that there is no love for manual driving anymore. Everyday Australians want the convenience of an effortless drive. And, when you would normally have to grind along in peak traffic, who can blame them?

But we also need to consider the role being played by the population’s fanaticism with SUVs. Once upon a time, not all that long ago actually, true SUVs built for off-road conditions were favoured with a manual transmission.

Now, however, because we use our SUVs for almost everything but off-roading, the clear direction has seen the latest models fitted with automatic transmission as default. Driving purists must be in disbelief! Or maybe they’ve made the switch as well, since less than 2% of SUVs are now manuals.

What does the future hold for manual driving?

If there is one sole bright spot for manual cars, however, they have a loyal support base among light commercial applications. As the preferred choice for many heavy-duty fleets, or tradies alike, there is surely a safe haven for the tried and trusted manual car?

Well, that may have been the case, but if you haven’t noticed around you, dual-cab utes have rose to prominence as some of the nation’s best-selling vehicles. More to the point, it’s not only tradies using these vehicles now. Instead, they are finding themselves in the hands of families who want convenience and simplicity. Yep, you guessed it! That’s another one of our preferences squeezing manual sales.

But at the root of all this, there’s something else happening. Younger drivers just aren’t interested in manual cars. Forget about the fact they can’t drive manual, they don’t even want to learn how to do so. What’s even more worrying for fans of the format is that if we do move the way of autonomous vehicles, what then for the nostalgic days of manual driving?