Electric cars outsold the manual transmission for the first time in 2019

Ronan Glon



The manual transmission's long, harrowing demise continued in 2019. For the first time, the number of electric cars sold new in America was higher than the number of vehicles delivered with three pedals and a clutch disc.

1.1% of Americans who bought a new car last year selected (or settled for) a manual transmission, which is nearly a rounding error considering annual sales totaled approximately 17.1 million units. In comparison, Green Car Reports wrote electric vehicles held a 1.6% share of the market, which is also negligible in the grand scheme of things. The manual transmission's market share dropped by 0.5% from 2018 to 2019, while EVs rose by 0.1%.

This trend is hardly surprising; the number of cars available with a manual transmission continues to drop, and the electric vehicle segment is growing steadily. Subaru notably announced the Impreza Sport will exclusively be available with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) for the 2020 model year, while Hyundai's Elantra and Veloster Turbo are going automatic-only. The born-again Toyota Supra never offered a stick to begin with.

Meanwhile, automakers are setting aside a huge amount of money to develop and launch electric cars, trucks, and SUVs. It's reasonable to assume that, in the early 2020s, the manual transmission will dip under the 1% mark and the electric powertrain will continue to inch towards the mainstream. Every electric car sold new or being developed in 2020 has two pedals, so hoping battery technology will save the stick is dumbly optimistic.

And yet, Ford unexpectedly proved motorists who want to pivot away from gasoline don't necessarily need to give up changing their own gears. It joined forces with Webasto to build a stick-shifted electric Mustang with over 900 horsepower and 1,000 pound-feet of torque. While it's technically possible to make an electric car with a six-speed stick, the determining question is whether consumer demand is high enough to warrant developing one.

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