Car consumers return to stick shift

May 1, 2012 at 2:07 PM
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DETROIT, May 1 (UPI) -- Demand for manual transmissions among U.S. drivers is on the rise, an industry research group said.

Ironically, just as automakers figured U.S. drivers were not interested in manual transmissions, the demand for stick shifts has returned, researchers at Edmunds.com said.

The so-called take rate for manual transmissions was 6.5 percent in the first quarter of the year, the highest since 2006, the company said.

In 2007, the take rate was 2.7 percent, USA Today reported Tuesday.

At that point, 29 percent of the 2,391 vehicle models for sale offered manual transmission models.

But automakers apparently took the hint and began reducing the option. Now only 19 percent of the available car models have an option of a stick shift.

Researchers said manual transmissions are often considered more fun to drive and typically they are about $1,000 cheaper than a comparable vehicle with an automatic transmission.

They are also frequently thought to have better gas mileage, but that is not always the case.

When going head-to-head with a modern, computer-assisted automatic transmission, cars with manual shifting frequently do not do as well on fuel efficiency, the newspaper said.

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