Unsplash | Randy Fath

The Stick Shift Is Basically Extinct In North America Now

Let me ask you: do you drive a stick shift? If you live in North America, I bet your answer would be a resounding "no." Unless you're a die-hard sports car fan, and even so, chances are that your car is automatic.

Well, as it turns out, the car industry is moving in that direction on all fronts so let's dive into that subject a little more.

I grew up in Europe, so for me, every car had a stick shift.

Unsplash | Victor Furtuna

It wasn't until I came to North America that I discovered automatic vehicles. I'm not kidding you. It was definitely a thing where I grew up and still is today.

The same can't be said of cars you see on the road in North America.

Unsplash | Sawyer Bengtson

If you can believe it, only about 1% of all vehicles sold in America have manual transmissions. Wow! I wouldn't have guessed that. I thought it would be a lot more.

Why is that?

Unsplash | Sergio Rota

Well, it's basically because the trend in America is to make everything big and as comfy as possible, including cars. That is in stark contrast to the smaller vehicles you often see zipping through the winding streets of Europe.

So the market has become saturated with SUVs, crossovers, and luxury pick-up trucks.

Unsplash | Maksym Tymchyk

It all goes back to the '50s. After World War II, automatic transmissions became a premium add-on for many American cars, and most people had no problem affording that.

On the contrary, Europe was still ravaged after the war, and most folks couldn't afford this type of expense at all.

Unsplash | Levi Meir Clancy

So they stuck to the smaller vehicles with manual transmissions, and the trend continued long into this very day.

By 1957, automatic cars had already taken over about 80% of the U.S. car market.

Unsplash | Alex Suprun

The country was oil-rich and pretty much escaped the economic fallout of the conflict, so being frugal wasn't a concern for an average American.

Today even sports cars are moving away from manual transmission.

Granted, you still have some carmakers like Porsche and Honda sticking to their stick shift luxury vehicles, but even Ferrari and Lamborghini no longer offer those options. Wow, I actually didn't realize that.

Of course, there will always be a market for vintage cars of the past.

Unsplash | Alex Iby

But now, car enthusiasts have to pay a premium to experience the joy of driving a stick shift. And many car companies are trying to ensure the feel is virtually the same whether you drive manual or automatic transmission vehicles.

So, are you one of those die-hard car fans who absolutely have to drive a manual vehicle?

Or do you only care about the ease of the whole driving experience? I'd love to know your opinion on the subject. What do you think? Are manual cars here to stay, or will they soon be the thing of the past?

h/t How Stuff Works