Over the weekend, I talked with a friend about manual transmissions. My friend is one of the few non-automatic journalists I know, driving a car with three pedals. He commented on the slow death of stick shifts, especially as cars become more and more electrified, or at least electrified.
I softly argued, suggesting that even after the market turned to EV, there would probably be a market for internal combustion engines, though probably quite small. Of course, unless ICE is completely banned. We also have a market for sports cars with hybrid and EV setups, and I think some can provide manuals. In any case, as long as some car enthusiasts demand sports cars, including manual cars, I think the market will exist unless automakers seek too much profit to produce such cars.
But what I’m not sure is how many enthusiasts exist and how loud they insist on keeping the “enthusiastic” car flames alive.
This may sound like a common worry that the younger generation isn’t as crazy about cars as their predecessors, but it’s not — enough to show that the younger generation still likes to play in the car. I think there is evidence. The automotive media social circle does not include many automotive stakeholders. First of all, only a few friends / family are crazy about cars. Part or another of the automotive industry.
But I suspect today’s enthusiastic fans have a different priority than looking for a high-performance car with a more environmentally friendly powertrain.
For example, I’m just an age that vaguely remembers the rebellion that Ford caused when Ford planned to make the Mustang front-wheel drive. Ford listened to the voices of loyal people, retreated, made the Mustang rear-wheel drive, and produced the probe as a front-wheel drive sports star. If Ford decides to make a major change to the Mustang, could it almost certainly reduce performance or make the car radically different from the traditional one?
We’re not talking about the Mach-E here, it’s another car that shares a name. Also, we are not necessarily talking about EV powertrains. The Instant Torque EV Mustang can be pretty cool. But what if Ford decides to destroy the manual? Make the car front-wheel drive? Or do you drop the V8 (which may not be completely bad given the power of the EcoBoost, but still …)? An enthusiastic crowd stood up, and if so, their bark, Is Ford enough to stop such a hypothetical change?
In short, BMW and other manufacturers selling high-end and luxury cars have reduced the number of sporty cars with manual transmissions, but the rebound has been less intense.
This is not a post to discuss the pros and cons of the manual. It can be done elsewhere. Rather, my manual and conversation about sports cars led to a jump-off point. Now I’m wondering. What are car enthusiasts looking for today? Do he / she / they have the same power over OEMs as enthusiasts once did? Or are they tough? Does market reality mean more than enthusiasts want?
I remember a book that worried that the market might be trying to kill a “driver’s car” in the 90’s, thanks to the widespread use of medium-sized vanilla sedans and the slow decline of stick shifts. The epidemic has fueled concerns. But the truth is: For a very long time, perhaps dating back to the beginning of the car, “fun” cars were almost certainly a small part of the market. Remember the cool cars of the 50’s and 60’s. But I forget the boring cars that have been driven into history.
So I don’t want to go that way. Rather than asking if there are still a lot of car enthusiasts and will continue to do so, I want to know if future enthusiasts can counter the power of the market (and perhaps regulation). I will.
Make a sound below.
QOTD: Are you still enthusiastic?
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