It’s a good question and one that needs answering. As car lovers, it’s hard to see why manual cars are not extinct.
Sure, they are supposed to be more fun to drive, but the industry put that myth bed years ago. What the world does know is that they’re harder to drive, don’t keep their retail value, and cost more to run than most of their automatic cousins.
With this information, it isn’t easy to see why automatics aren’t more popular. But, when you look at the following, the picture becomes clearer.
The first ever car powered by an internal combustion engine was made in 1807 by a Frenchman named François Isaac de Rivaz. The first automatic, by comparison, wasn’t completed until the 1930s, and that was still a semi-auto.
Plus, the bugs in the automatic transmission weren’t smoothed out until the 1960s, giving manual cars a huge head start.
While the automatics were still being developed, the manual cars were flooding the market. To this day, the fact that the manual car was the first ever car plays a part in the minds of the consumer. They see it as the right way to drive as opposed to the impostor.
One of the earliest and most important versions of an automatic transmission was the Hydra-Matic. Developed in the 30s, the option finally came to market in the 1940s when Cadillac and Oldsmobile offered it on their cars.
But, it took years to get the transition as smooth as the manual, and the reputation of automatics took a hit.
Today, people still view automatics with suspicion because they see them unreliable, or not as trustworthy as manuals. Whether right or wrong, mud sticks, even if it is mud from decades ago.
Outside of the USA, the conventional car is a manual because the technology didn’t exist when manufacturers started to make cars.
Over the years, the status quo hasn’t changed even as the technology has because people are used to driving manuals.
Human beings are creatures of habit, and most people don’t like the idea of change even if it could be good. Change is scary because it means venturing into the unknown. An automatic doesn’t seem like a scary change, but it is to the drivers that have never driven one before.
The rest of the world uses manuals, and that means manuals are easier to source than automatics.
Anyone that lives in the UK, for instance, doesn’t need to drive an automatic because it makes life harder. Although automatic driving lessons are available and driving an automatic is easier, it means they can’t drive a manual.
The logic of some people is if manuals are the most popular cars in the world, it makes sense to drive one.
There is no doubt manuals are great cars that are easy to drive. However, manuals still hold the edge due to a combination of stigma and a fear of change.