Even on “enthusiast” cars, the take rate is low.
Each year, our list of manual transmission cars you can still buy dwindles. Just today, we learned that the 2020 Hyundai Elantra is dropping its manual transmission option. That’s no surprise, because even the 2019 only had a manual transmission on two trims. And even though enthusiasts clamor how much they love their third pedal and fervent “save the manuals” campaigns making the rounds on social media, one thing is clear. Yep, you all still aren’t buying manuals.
Need proof? Toyota was all too happy to tell CarBuzz exactly how many manuals it sells. Toyota spokesperson Nancy Hubbell looked into the manual transmission take rate on the company’s cars and trucks. The news was not encouraging for row-your-own enthusiasts. Toyota does offer more manual transmission options across its range than most of its competitors, but likely not for much longer.
Let’s take the Toyota Corolla. It’s one of the most popular cars ever, and you can still get it with a manual transmission. However, of 280,000 Corollas Toyota shifted in 2018, just 1 percent were delivered with a manual transmission. One. “It’s not very high for the Corolla as a whole, but it is better if you just count the hatchback,” Hubbell said. And she is right: The manual take rate on the hatchback stands at 15 percent. The sedan’s sales dwarf the hatchback, though.
But what about the Toyota Tacoma? Surely, having a manual gearbox in your truck instantly increases your virility by a factor of ten, so everyone should have one right? Clearly not: The take rate is just 5 percent. Same thing for the diminutive Yaris. It’s no wonder, then, that Toyota dropped the manual option for the new Mazda-built Yaris hatchback.
But what about the 86?
Okay, those are all ordinary cars driven by ordinary people. Clearly, the lay person isn’t interested in driving a manual transmission car. But what about enthusiasts? We’re all about having that third pedal! It’s a great theft deterrent as hardly anyone knows how to drive a manual anymore, and it’s another connection between you and the car.
Oh yeah, you would expect the Toyota 86 to have a high manual take rate. Especially since the manual is more powerful, on top of being more fun to drive. But you know what? You’re wrong.
The take rate on the Toyota 86 hovered around 33 percent. Granted, that’s much higher than Toyota’s other cars, but seriously? One-third? Toyota does not even sell that many 86s, and people had to go buy it with an automatic transmission.
So there you have it. Here’s more proof that the manual is dying, as if you needed it. We expect a few manufacturers will hold out, but it likely won’t be long, even if electric cars fail to catch on for a few more years, that we will see many more manual transmission cars emerge.