Updated: Jul 5, 2020
It finally happened: EV sales, small as they are, outpaced manuals in the third quarter of 2019.
NOV 9, 2019
Chris Doane Automotive - Car and Driver
The numbers are small but significant: in the third quarter of 2019, J.D. Power data shows, more Americans bought electric vehicles than chose a manual transmission for their car. About 1.9 percent of car buyers chose EVs, but 1.1 percent chose manual transmissions in new vehicles. The current marketplace does still have choice: there are 40 manual-transmission cars available, compared with 16 electric vehicles.
As recently as 2015, electric cars were a rarity, commanding only 0.3 percent of the new-car market, while 1.9 percent of buyers chose manual transmissions. Now the role has reversed, with EVs on the rise and manuals stagnating or declining altogether, according to data from industry analyst J.D. Power. It may feel like an odd comparison, but it's indicative of broad changes in buyers' relationships with their cars, and manufacturers have responded—notably Chevrolet with the 2020 Corvette, which has no shift-your-own option; the only transmission option is an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Tyson Jominy of the J.D. Power Data and Analytics Division told Car and Driver that its data comes from the third quarter of 2019 and excludes fleet sales "to focus on how true consumers are behaving in the U.S. market." Noting that electric-vehicle sales have tripled in the past two years, while still definitely a very minor part of the marketplace, Jominy said the choice of a manual transmission has declined in 2019 almost as much as EVs have grown.
2016 Chevrolet Cruze with manual transmission.
Michael Simari - Car and Driver
Smaller cars such as the Ford Fiesta and the Chevrolet Cruze once were purchased with manual transmissions "primarily as a lower cost of entry to a new vehicle," Jominy notes. These and others like it are being discontinued, and as newer models—the Corvette is one example—are not being introduced with a manual, that leaves sportier or niche vehicles, or a few straggler entry-level cars, as the only ones offering a manual-transmission choice.