Subaru Is Stick-Shift King; Porsche Doing OK with Manuals, Too
Manual take-rate of 0.9% estimated for the entire industry in the first-half of 2022 (2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS pictured above).
Asian brands are most committed to manuals.
BMW might sell more stick-shifts when the M2 arrives in spring.
In this installment of Who’s Still Selling Stick-Shifts and How Many of Us are Buying Them?, we attempt to estimate what that number might be for the entire industry for the first half of this year, when 6.8 million vehicles were sold in the US.
This can only be an estimate, because the take-rates we get are often rounded and based on historical numbers. Also, the full-year US sales data will need to be collected before a more definitive percentage would be available.
Note that when we were quoted a precise take-rate by an automaker, we calculated the exact number of vehicles—4907 Subaru WRX/STIs, for example. But when we were left to our own estimates, we rounded the number of units.
The only Bimmers currently offered with manuals in the US are the base, rear-wheel-drive versions of the M3 and M4, as a no-cost option. “We don’t publish the take-rate, but I can tell you that it is a solidly double-digit percentage and has been worthwhile developing it” for the current M3 and M4, a spokesman says. Estimating 5% rounded down M3/M4 take-rates for first-half 3-Series sedan and 4-Series coupe sales, and then estimating a 20% manual take-rate among those, we’ll score BMW’s manual sales at 250 units, or 0.2% of the brand.
The brand’s take-rate is bound to increase next year when the new M2 arriving in spring 2023 (the RWD two-door version of the compact) will be available with a manual, according to BMW M brand chief Frank van Meel. Add to that a possible stick-shift option for the Z4, sharing its 3.0-liter inline-six with the Toyota Supra, which just added a manual option. “Although no decision has been made” on whether you’ll be able to order the BMW sports car with a stick, the spokesman says. BMW’s manual take-rate has dropped steadily over the last two decades in favor of paddle-shift double-clutch and hydraulically controlled gearboxes—though, according to the spokesman, manuals routinely command $5000 more on the collector-car market.
Unlike BMW Group’s Mini, the BMW brand has seen no evidence of change or disruption to its manual take-rates.
Prior to the pandemic, BMW’s British small car brand typically sold 18% to 20% with manuals across the model range, with the John Cooper Works 2-Door Hardtop typically at 40%. While a manual is on the options list for the 2023 Cooper and Cooper S 2-Door hardtop, 4-Door hardtop and convertible, JCW 2-Door hardtop, and front-wheel-drive version of the Cooper S Clubman, Mini has not been able to sell any sticks in the US for months “due to the supply chain issue and conflict in Ukraine,” a spokesman says. Mini hopes to have sticks back in stock before the end of 2022. Based on overall sales, the brand should have sold as many as 2400 manuals for the first half of 2022, but due to greater issues beyond its control, it scores a zero.
No word from Ford, alas, on manual take-rates, so, Educated Guess I: 20% of Mustangs and 5% of Broncos, though the latter might have been higher in those first months after its late-2021 launch. If our take-rate guesses are correct, that’s rounded to 7900 from Ford, or 0.9% for the brand.
Manual take-rate on the Blackwing versions of the Cadillac CT4 and CT5 currently is roughly 40%, and “was a bit higher at launch,” a spokesman says. We don’t have a take-rate for the Blackwing models among all CT4 and CT5 models, but taking an educated guess of one-in-10 for each, let’s extrapolate a total of 480 manual Cadillacs sold in the first half of 2022, or 0.8% for the Standard of the World.
No official word from Chevy on manual take-rates for its two remaining models with the option—Camaro and Spark. Educated guess II: Say, 20% manual Camaros (rounded down) and less than 5% Spark. Based on first half ‘22 sales, that would total 2400 for the Chevrolet brand, equal to 0.3% of total sales.
Of 453,347 Hondas sold in the first half, an estimated 3516 were manuals, based on the company’s take-rates described below. That comes to an 0.7% manual rate for the entire brand.
Take-rate for the remaining Honda model available with a manual, the Civic, is about 5%. This consists of Civic Si models, which are 100% manual and account for most of that take-rate, and non-Si Civic hatchbacks, some version of which offer a six-speed manual option.
American Honda’s premium-sporty division warmed our heel-and-toeing hearts when it brought back the Integra badge on its new sporty compact four-door hatchback with a six-speed manual option, available only on the top A-Spec with Technology Package trim. Of all Integras sold since its launch earlier in the first half of the year, 60% were manuals—about 898 of the 1496 Integras sold and equal to 1.7% of all Acuras sold year-to-date. The Integra take-rate is expected to come down as more cars get into the dealer pipeline, a spokesman said.
Manuals account for 17% of Hyundai’s N Line, which includes the automatic-only Kona N. We’ll estimate the Elantra N, which had a 28% manual take-rate, accounts for one-quarter of all Elantras, or 3400. And 44% of Veloster Ns sold the first six months were manuals, for 497. Let’s round that to 3900 manuals of 343,867 Hyundais sold, or 1.1%.
Manual take-rate averages less than 5% on the Forte. We’ll score that as 2500 stick-shift Fortes out of 333,340 for the whole Kia line sold in the first half, or 0.75%. Kia is committed to maintaining a stick-shift option for its Forte GT even as other competitors in the compact segment go all-automatic or CVT, a spokesman says.
The erstwhile Zoom Zoom brand does not release take-rates, so we’ll estimate 50% of all Mazda MX-5 Miatas (with the roadster more likely than the RF to come with a manual) and less than 5% of Mazda 3. That comes to about 2100 manuals of 142,803 Mazdas sold in the first half, for a brand-wide 1.5% take-rate.
Take-rate for the Mirage is 4.7% (6.8% for the hatchback, 3.6% for the G4 sedan), for 448 stick-shifts. This comes to 0.9% of sales of all Mitsubishis for the first half of the year.
Another brand that does not reveal manual take-rates. The new Z sports car did not premier in time for first-half sales, and there were zero sold of the outgoing, manual-only ‘21 370Z. Nissan sold 5626 Versas in the first half, and we’ll give it the rounded-below-5% guesstimate, for 280, or 0.07% of the division’s sales.
Dodge declines to reveal manual take-rates. Challenger is the sole Dodge still available with a manual. Educated Guess III: At the same rounded-down 20% rate we estimated for Camaro and Mustang, that’s 5100, or 6% for the brand.
One leftover 500 and seven Spiders were sold in the first half of 2022. While we’d guess three or four of those Spiders were manuals, we’ll leave them out of our total.
See Dodge for take-rate policy. So, Educated Guess IV: We’ll give Wrangler and Gladiator the same 5% estimate as Ford Bronco, so that would be about 6900 Jeep sticks, or 1.8% brand-wide.
All hail America’s King of Manuals. Subaru sold about 10,290 cars and crossovers with manuals in the first six months of the year, an overall rate of 3.9% for the full line, including CVT-only models:
WRX/STI—at 79% manual, this is the model most likely as anything sold in the US to be found with three pedals. That rate equals 4907 of the 6212 WRX/STIs sold in the first six months.
The BRZ—70%, or 1164 of the sports cars sold.
Crosstrek—take-rate is 5%, an impressive 3503 of 70,050 sold in the first half. The six-speed manual is only available on base and Premium models out of its five trim levels, including hybrid.
Impreza—also 5%, for 716 units.
While its Lexus luxury division has been automatic-only for several years now (used IS 250, anybody?) Toyota division still has a strong manual lineup, and in the second half of the year it expands with addition of a six-speed manual option for the ‘23 Supra. The stick is available on the 3.0, 3.0 Premium, and A91-MT Special Edition versions powered by the BMW inline six-cylinder, while the 2.0-liter turbo-four version remains automatic-only. Toyota’s stick-shift rundown comes to a take-rate equal to 1% of all Toyota division models sold year-to-date, an estimated 9156 stick-shifts sold:
GR86—34.7% take-rate, or 2460 units.
Tacoma—3.9%, or 4250.
Corolla Hatchback—11.8%, or 1390.
Corolla SE—1.3%, or 1056.
Generally, Porsche sees about 25% manual take-rates on its 718 and 911 models, “and it tends to skew toward 50% on higher-powered models such as the 718 GT4 and Spyder, or 911 GT3,” a spokesman says. While those two models total just 6919 of 32,529 Porsches, including automatic-only SUVs and sedans in the first half, that comes to roughly 1730 stick-shifts, or 5.3% of the whole line. Porsche offers manuals as a no-cost option to the PDK on all 718 Cayman and Boxster models except GT4 RS, and for the 911 Carrera S, 4S, and GTS coupe and cabriolet, Targa 4S, Targa 4 GTS, GT3, and GT3 with Touring Package.
VW says annual take-rates for the GTI and Golf R are typically in the 40-50% range, so that’s 2690 (at the top-estimate) for the first half, plus about 5% of Jetta, for an additional 1190 units. We estimate Volkswagen sold 3880 manuals in the first half of the year. It’s also worth noting Audi, part of the VW Group, discontinued US manuals three years ago.
According to our calculations, the share of manuals among all cars and trucks sold in the US is slipping. For model year 2021, Wards Intelligence Data estimated a take-rate of 1.4%. The manual option for the Hyundai Accent has since been dropped, the Nissan 370Z and the BMW M2 were not available this year, and Mini has temporarily lost its supply of manual gearboxes.
Even combined, these cars are not enough to account for a half-point drop in the industry take-rate, which we estimate to be 61,728 out of 6,813,079 new cars and trucks sold in the US for the first six months of 2022 (per goodcarbadcar.net). That equals fewer than one in 100 new vehicles—0.9%—for the industry.
It’s a wonder you can find any brand-new stick-shifts at all.
Have you made peace with the prospect of a world without manual transmissions? Please comment below.