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We’ve always said that we’ve lost touch with the clutch, but I never thought in a million years that it would be guys who’d be giving up on them at such an alarming rate. Whatever happened to rowing your own gears through the streets, Fast & Furious style, with gratuitous tire squeal emanating from underneath your 1998 Toyota Corolla?
But alas, the days when people even knew what a “bite point” was are pretty much long gone, as a recent report by Swapalease.com has illuminated a few new trends in the rapidly diminishing world of manual gearboxes.
The Cincinnati-based firm is currently the nation’s largest car lease marketplace, and having unlimited access to documents on what is being leased and by whom sure does have its advantages. In order to discover how these “shifts” occur, the company painstakingly analyzed its entire leasing database, which houses over 50,000 driver records dating all the way back to 2012.
What was uncovered was that even though fewer people are opting for manual transmissions than ever before (surely due to the increased popularity of automatic dual-clutches and paddle shifters), women will more than likely be the next target market for sports car manufacturers.
“Manual drift” is a phrase that was first coined by Swapalease.com executives in order to summarize the slow death of the manual transmission. It’s a tough pill to swallow, we know, but it’s one that has long been in the automotive world’s prescription plan, and the side effects are already being felt. Recent analysis conducted by Swapalease.com shows that the number of manual transmission cars driven by Americans has dropped roughly 22% since 2012 alone, with even more of a decline predicted for the upcoming decade.
While this is surely disconcerting for fans of traditional performance driving or those who like all things nostalgic, it is the different rates of “drift” between men and women that have our interest.
The percentage of men shifting manual gearboxes in comparison to women has dropped from 85.4% in 2012, to 81.2% in 2015. This means that the percentage of women driving manuals jumps from 14.6% in 2012, to 18.8% in 2015. So even though both genders as a whole are driving fewer manual transmission equipped cars, because such a large number of men are choosing to dump the clutch entirely, it has caused the percentage of women driving stick to spike.
Scot Hall, executive vice president of Swapalease.com sums it up: “It’s not surprising to see the sunset of manual transmission vehicles, particularly when you consider all the conversation around autonomous driving. It’s difficult to explain why men are drifting away from manual faster than women, but perhaps fathers [who are] teaching their daughters to drive [will] still see a premium in teaching both driving methods today.”