Why do drivers prefer manual gearboxes?
According to Automotive News Europe, only 12% of vehicles in Europe possess automatic transmissions, while in the United States, only 3% of vehicles have manual ones.
Why are driving preferences so polarised around the world? Although the trend indicates that automatic transmissions are becoming more and more important to the detriment of manuals, many drivers are reluctant to change it. For them, the driving experience of a manual transmission is unique.
The driving experience of a manual gearbox is unique
In fact, a recent survey in Germany revealed that 46% of drivers prefer manual gearboxes to automatic transmissions (29% prefer automatic transmissions and the remaining 25% are indifferent to the kind of gearbox).
Why do some drivers still prefer to use the manual gearbox?
Indeed automatic transmissions make driving easier, the majority of European drivers still prefer manual gearboxes. Why?
1. Better driving experience
The manual gearbox allows the driver to have more control over the car’s behaviour. The use of the clutch makes it possible for the user to decide how high the car is revved during the journey, which makes for a sportier driving experience.
One of the possible reasons why manual gearboxes still reign supreme in Europe may be the fact that speed limits in EU countries are much more lenient than in the rest of the world. In Germany, for example, there is the so-called Autobahn, 6,000 km of motorway where there is no speed limit.
2. Lower price
In addition to having a – generally – lower purchase price, manual cars also have lower repair costs. The manual gearbox allows the driver to use the clutch to reduce speed, which puts less strain on the brakes and tyres. The manual type of driving facilitates better maintenance of vehicles.
Cost is and will continue to be a determining factor in Europe. Given economic developments in the first quarter of the 21st century (two major economic crises in less than 10 years), it is very reasonable that cost will continue to be a major factor in car buying.
3. All-terrain vehicles
Automatic cars tend to have problems in cross-county scenarios. In track situations or rougher terrain, the automatic vehicle is not able to interpret on its own that it is in a situation where it needs to rev the engine higher, which results in more pressure on the transmission and, in the long run, less longevity of the vehicle.
There is no accounting for taste, and it is true that every driver will want his or her own driving experience. However, manual vehicles are still preferred by those who want to have a more genuine and, why not, more fun driving experience.