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  • Anthony Fongaro
    Anthony Fongaro

    Controversial! Manual Transmissions are Over-Rated

      Live in the USA and want a new car? Get an automatic

    *Note: this isn’t my opinion. This article is more to spark a discussion. I love #savethemanuals. With that, please enjoy a controversial article.


    Some people are fans of electric cars. Others regale the days of the glorious V12s which are now few-and-far in-between. Same goes for interiors. While the days of analog gauges, non-infotainment systems, and simple controls hearken back to an easier time, trends are making those just memories. Most people, car lovers or not, accept changes to vehicles. Fuel economy, safety, performance, and technology are constantly evolving. However, there is one aspect of vehicles that isn't sport or performance-based that needs to go away. The manual transmission. 


    If you’re reading this and are a #savethemanuals fan, you probably hate me for talking about ditching the manual transmission. I’m sure the comments are not going to be the most positive. Granted, my thought process of manual transmissions is not new. Performance companies such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, and McLaren don’t have manual transmissions anymore. There is a reason why there has been a campaign for over ten years called #savethemanuals and fans rejoice when a car has either a standard or optional manual transmission. 


    Should they be completely taken off the map? No. I believe sports cars and performance vehicles should still have the option of a manual transmission. The Porsche911 and 718 range and Toyota’s 86 both have a manual as optional or standard. Even “hot-hatchbacks” such as the Honda Civic Type R and the VW Gold GTI/R have manuals, with the manual being the only transmission for the Civic Type R. Do they expect to sell a lot of them? Transmission wise, no, but owners of this type of vehicle want to shift the car themselves. I will admit that cost and upkeep of a manual is cheaper before you count replacing the clutch.


    This brings me to a few different complaints. First, “I feel one with the car.” Excellent! But I feel one with a car that has an excellent automatic or dual-clutch transmission. Inexpensive cars such as a Nissan Versa or Honda Fit seem ok with a manual, but what’s the point then? Feeling one with a car that’s $14,000 doesn’t seem to make sense. If you’re spending that much for a new car, why not get a more fun or practical car with a manual if that’s all you want? To me, feeling one with the car means I know what’s going on constantly with the tires, suspension, and brakes. I also do know what’s going on with my transmission because of complaint number two.


    “Rowing gears”. You start out at first gear, accelerate while shifting to a certain gear, and go down to second gear when you turn a corner. That’s what I did in my Volkswagen GTI with the DSG gearbox. For me, I didn’t really “row gears” the same way you would in a manual, but I did get to choose which gear I wanted to be in. Choice is what manual only drivers like. They can be in the tallest gear such as 6th or 7th and drop instantly to 2nd for a tight corner. Slight problem with that. Thanks to advanced automatic gearboxes that are constantly evolving, vehicles with automatics can shift manually. Not just let the car rev a little bit, but let the car stay in one gear all the way to the top of the rev range. Thanks to paddle-shifters, shifting can feel more fun and like a race-car.


    Speaking of race-cars, complaint number three is “manuals are quicker around a track compared to an automatic.” There is some truth to this but remember the types of vehicles we are talking about. This isn’t about a BMW M4 or a Porsche 911. These are vehicles that probably cost under $50,000. We are talking vehicles like the Honda Accord. Can you take a manual or an automatic Accord around a track? Sure. It would be hilarious to see a brand-new Accord go against another brand-new Accord, but it would be pointless. You don’t buy these to go on a track. 


    So, with the complaints out of the way, why do I think automatics are better? They’re fast. There is a reason that high-performance vehicles are ditching the manual for the automatic. Even in mundane vehicles, clever automatics such as dual-clutch automated manual transmissions can be faster than their manual counterpart. Driving in rush hour traffic or through a city is easier with an automatic. You can change gears the way you want and once driving becomes frustrating, switch the car into Drive and you’re set to go. With technology advancing, the automatic transmission is also evolving. Granted, I still don’t like the CVT transmission.  That said, we now have automatics with more gears, faster shifts, and better fuel economy. When was the last time you saw a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid with a manual? 


    Before I end, I have to say this: this article only applies to car owners in the United States. If you travel out of the country frequently, you will certainly be in countries where you need to know how to drive a manual. Otherwise, the manual transmission is already going the way of the CD changer. It’s just unnecessary to have to shift gears yourself if the car isn’t made for performance. Granted, with the rise of electric vehicles, we soon may see a #savetheautomatics as a hashtag. 

    What is your opinion? Are you livid with me bashing the sacred manual transmission and will only drive manual? Do you care what transmission you have, or do you only drive automatic? Leave a comment below and follow us on social media. 
     

    Edited by Anthony Fongaro


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    14 minutes ago, balthazar said:

    In the U.S., automatics surpassed manuals in sales in 1954. Yes; I need to see your sources for “last 10-20 years”.

    Apologies, that sentence was not supposed to be there.

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    NP. 
    I driven numerous manuals (3, 4, & 5-spd), and I own a 4-spd currently. I also certainly call myself a car enthusiast... but manuals do not appeal to me. Its personal preference only; the ‘one with the car’ mantra is BS in my opinion, and one certainly could make the argument that refusing to drive an auto is “refusing to accept change”, were one so inclined.

    Personal preference.

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    I have driven manuals all my life, just recently got a daily driver with automatic.

    I love the manuals and they make the daily commute grind much more entertaining (unless your commute is in traffic).  However, I definitely agree that hard to beat the convenience and performance of modern auto transmissions. 

    Despite that I think it is hard to beat the enjoyment of driving a sports car with manual.  Personally, I get way more satisfaction driving energetically car with manual transmission, than driving performance car with auto, even though auto might be slightly faster.

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    As with all things... it really depends on the vehicle.  I wouldn't want a manual in my Toronado for example. But a small economy car or sporty car like the Miata or Camaro, yes a manual would be nice.  That said, I just had a Camaro with the 10-speed automatic and it did everything I told it when I told it. 

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    The notion that manuals "need to go away" is absurd on its face. There simply isn't any reason behind that statement. Choice is always a good thing, and that applies to transmissions as well as any other aspect of equipment in a car. For my part, even if I won the lottery tomorrow, I'd never buy a new performance/super/hyper car with flappy paddles - it's a deal breaker. For me, manuals are simply more fun and engaging to drive - that's a happy exchange over an automatic that shaves a few tenths off of the 0-60 time. "It's faster" pales in comparison to "it's more fun". As for the tech (driving modes etc.), I'd opt out of that too wherever possible I don't like video games, and I sure don't want to drive one. I hope there remains room in the world for both, and the campaign to remove the choice dies, but as for me, I'll take the analog version.

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    37 minutes ago, Camino LS6 said:

    The notion that manuals "need to go away" is absurd on its face. There simply isn't any reason behind that statement. Choice is always a good thing, and that applies to transmissions as well as any other aspect of equipment in a car. For my part, even if I won the lottery tomorrow, I'd never buy a new performance/super/hyper car with flappy paddles - it's a deal breaker. For me, manuals are simply more fun and engaging to drive - that's a happy exchange over an automatic that shaves a few tenths off of the 0-60 time. "It's faster" pales in comparison to "it's more fun". As for the tech (driving modes etc.), I'd opt out of that too wherever possible I don't like video games, and I sure don't want to drive one. I hope there remains room in the world for both, and the campaign to remove the choice dies, but as for me, I'll take the analog version.

    Love that you're back adding your two cents. :2cents:

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    I have no opinion concerning manual transmissions. 

    Then again, manuals are no longer as common as they were 30 or 40 years ago.  There is a reason automatics have dominated for decades.  I would offer another reason: few people WANT manual transmissions in their cars or CUVs or SUVs or pickup trucks.  Also, today's automatics are so good that a manual has a difficult time competing against a well-tuned automatic.  The large trend towards EVs will make manuals even more scarce than they already are.  In 1940 there were virtually no vehicles with an automatic transmission.  I suspect that by 2040 there will be no true manual transmission in new vehicles out for sale.

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    17 minutes ago, riviera74 said:

    I have no opinion concerning manual transmissions. 

    Then again, manuals are no longer as common as they were 30 or 40 years ago.  There is a reason automatics have dominated for decades.  I would offer another reason: few people WANT manual transmissions in their cars or CUVs or SUVs or pickup trucks.  Also, today's automatics are so good that a manual has a difficult time competing against a well-tuned automatic.  The large trend towards EVs will make manuals even more scarce than they already are.  In 1940 there were virtually no vehicles with an automatic transmission.  I suspect that by 2040 there will be no true manual transmission in new vehicles out for sale.

    As long as there is a Miata, there will be at least one manual transmission.  Unless they turn that EV too.

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    Long term, Manuals are dead and so will be the automatic transmission as we migrate to electrics. Yes some EVs have 2 step automatic trans, but I believe in time, even those will go away. Humanity is finding alternative things to do and enjoy and with roads so congested, the days of Manual Sport Enthusiasts are numbers sadly. RIP the Manual!

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    I've had plenty of manuals,

    Hard reality is with bad traffic, and other factors, it really is better and even safer to be in an automatic.  Autos are better at FE now, faster to shift, etc.

    I still would endorse some models out there have Manuals available.  Primarily for performance vehicles and fun to drive vehicles.  But really nothing like a base Kia Forte should have one.  Now, say, if Chevy had a 2.0 Malibu manual in a true RS sports sedan package...maybe.   

    Edited by regfootball
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    I prefer manual transmissions and greatly miss that aspect of driving my previous vehicle, a moderately underpowered Jeep Compass.  My current vehicle has an 8-speed automatic and has a hard time figuring out what gear it needs to be in from time to time.  This would never happen if I could positively select my own gears.  I would love the option of a 6-speed manual in the Chevy Colorado with the V6 and four wheel drive.  Toyota and Nissan still offer them, but there is no way I would buy one.

    As far as Europeans go, I envy them for a couple of aspects of their automotive landscape:  Manuals are still prevalent in mainstream vehicles, diesels are still available, and smaller vehicles are not viewed as penalty boxes.  Also, Europeans are not yet afraid to be fanciful in design.

    In America, automotive choices disappear every year.  There is a sameness to everything because everyone is trying to chase the same customer, apparently.  This will only careen further south as more EV are forced onto the market, looking for buyers who do not exist.  Sad state.

    Edited by ocnblu
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    14 hours ago, dfelt said:

    Long term, Manuals are dead and so will be the automatic transmission as we migrate to electrics. Yes some EVs have 2 step automatic trans, but I believe in time, even those will go away. Humanity is finding alternative things to do and enjoy and with roads so congested, the days of Manual Sport Enthusiasts are numbers sadly. RIP the Manual!

    EVs eventually will have transmissions (look at Porsche).  In order to put smaller motors and increase efficiency they will start putting at least 2-3 speed transmissions.

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    10 hours ago, ocnblu said:

    I prefer manual transmissions and greatly miss that aspect of driving my previous vehicle, a moderately underpowered Jeep Compass.  My current vehicle has an 8-speed automatic and has a hard time figuring out what gear it needs to be in from time to time.  This would never happen if I could positively select my own gears.  I would love the option of a 6-speed manual in the Chevy Colorado with the V6 and four wheel drive.  Toyota and Nissan still offer them, but there is no way I would buy one.

    As far as Europeans go, I envy them for a couple of aspects of their automotive landscape:  Manuals are still prevalent in mainstream vehicles, diesels are still available, and smaller vehicles are not viewed as penalty boxes.  Also, Europeans are not yet afraid to be fanciful in design.

    In America, automotive choices disappear every year.  There is a sameness to everything because everyone is trying to chase the same customer, apparently.  This will only careen further south as more EV are forced onto the market, looking for buyers who do not exist.  Sad state.

    Are you sure about Europe on that? I believe due to Diesel Gate VW, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, that Diesel is in a short list of death and will be gone in the next few years too, also my travels have shown the opposite as I rarely except in old auto's see manuals. Everything is auto now and the costs have truly kept the young away from auto's so I do not see Manuals as a Prevalent transmission in their mainstream auto's. Europeans are also starting to get bigger and as such, I think they will be moving to bigger auto's too. Buyers are on the fence awaiting choices and I will bet we will see many buy once a variety of EVs are out.

    Ignore the future at your own expense.

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    3 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    Are you sure about Europe on that? I believe due to Diesel Gate VW, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, that Diesel is in a short list of death and will be gone in the next few years too, also my travels have shown the opposite as I rarely except in old auto's see manuals. Everything is auto now and the costs have truly kept the young away from auto's so I do not see Manuals as a Prevalent transmission in their mainstream auto's. Europeans are also starting to get bigger and as such, I think they will be moving to bigger auto's too. Buyers are on the fence awaiting choices and I will bet we will see many buy once a variety of EVs are out.

    Ignore the future at your own expense.

    Search any of the manufacturers' sites. Diesel is all over the place still. 

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    8 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    Search any of the manufacturers' sites. Diesel is all over the place still. 

    Yes, they have it as an option, but I question how many sales, European union has stated sales are in clear decline.

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    17 hours ago, dfelt said:

    Yes, they have it as an option, but I question how many sales, European union has stated sales are in clear decline.

    I know it isn't a guarantee but when there are that many offered, it is likely because it is the preferred choice. 

    I also believe that when the fuel is mostly cheaper per country and it's more efficient, it makes the most sense for it to be a popular fuel source.

    https://autotraveler.ru/en/spravka/fuel-price-in-europe.html#.XbmUMihKiM8

    Edited by ccap41
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    Because of dieselgate, diesel is now seen as a lot dirtier than gasoline, even if it has since cleaned up its act.  Environmentally conscious Euros, of which there are a lot more of per capita than there are here, are switching to hybrids, EVs, and even just regular gasoline cars to avoid the dirt stigma. 

    Diesel has fallen to 30% of sales in the EU when it was over 50% a few years ago. 

    Add to it that gasoline cars have gotten more efficient and diesel engines still cost more to buy up front and the cost advantage on diesel has diminished significantly. 

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Here I have not had any manipulation of the box done with patchwork electrical hacks. It is always best to learn the details or hire the proper person to do your electrical work. Being that I am comfortable with pulling out the circuit breaker that is turned off, I choose to pull and replace the 240V 30-amp laundry room circuit. Here in this picture, you can see it removed and a better view of the grounding / neutral bar of the electrical panel. At this point, I wanted to pull out the punch of where I was going to run the new electrical lines into the panel. Once I pulled out the punch, I drilled a small starter hole from the inside to the outside so I could line up properly the larger drill bit for the incoming conduit. Upon drilling, I attached the pipe nipple extension to the 90-degree wire access conduit, and I inserted it through the outside wall. Here I put on the washer, lock nut and insulated bushing as you can see here. Now the next step was to install the conduit, some love their hard conduit and gluing it together as it comes in 10ft lengths, and you then have to either use a special heater tool to bend the hard conduit or buy the proper pieces that are curved. I choose to go with liquid proof flexible commercial conduit. The benefit here is that while this is a bit more expensive, the flexibility of the line makes it so much easier to install. One thing no matter what type of conduit you choose to use is that one has to run the electrical lines through the conduit. Hard conduit can be with tight bends very challenging to run the electrical lines unless you have a special tool that allows you to snake through the conduit, attach the electrical lines and then it uses an electrical motor to pull it. I choose to run my flexible conduit out in a straight line, and I had pushed through my three 6awg lines through it so that I had the wire already in the conduit. Now this does make the conduit much heavier to install, but I found it faster and easier to do it this way. You will also notice that I have a Black, White and Green wire rather than the code dictating a Black, Red and Green wire. Both Lowe's and Home Depot were out at the time of purchase the red 6awg wire. So, I did what is allowed and that is on the ends of the wire at both ends, I wrapped them with red electrical tape. I started with connecting the liquid tight end connector to the flexible conduit and attaching it to the 90 degree wire access to the panel. I pushed the wires through to the inside and reattached the liquid tight cover and then started using the brackets to attach the conduit to the house. Two things to consider, one is the over all look of the installation, sometimes the cheapest approach is not the best especially when it comes to ones significant other, wife, partner, etc., not everyone likes to see conduit. I choose to do my best to minimize the visibility of the conduit and once I paint it to match the house it will truly not show up as the wife never noticed it when she came home till after I showed here. Upon installation of the conduit with the 6 AWG wires, it was time to mount the home charger in my designated place. Here you need to make sure it is level, supported by the wall which can sometimes require additional bracing. Here you see my ChargePoint+ unit being installed on the wall. With the charger installed onto the wall, I finished up the connection of the conduit / wires into the unit. Connected the electrical supply side and the charging cable side and reinstalled the cover. With the installation of the charger unit and wiring done, it was time to focus on the circuit breaker installation side. Here I had an LED head light as I finally turned off the 200-amp circuit breaker to the house. I attached the red and black wires to the circuit breaker, installed the ground wire and then installed the circuit breaker into the panel. I also at this time wrapped each wire from the laundry outlet in proper electrical tap and a wire twist to add additional protection and secured them out of the way in the panel corner. I also at this time used my torque screwdriver to ensure proper torque on the wires. With the installation completed at the panel side, I turned back on the 200-amp circuit enabling the house to have power and was time to go enable the charger unit. Here ChargePoint+ has an outstanding cellphone app to enable you to finish up the setup of the charger. I was able to connect to the unit via WiFi and set the unit to 70 amp circuit hardwired. I also then connected it to my house WiFi for internet access. This allowed me to do a update on the unit for software. Here ChargePoint has on the left side of the unit indicators for WiFi connection. Green is good and as you can see in the picture above, I have WiFi connection and the alert is showing green so no issues with the charger. Upon using the regular ChargePoint software app on my smartphone I was able to complete setting up an account and final configuration of my charger as a home charger unit. The unit is green when not in use but ready to be used. During Charging the unit is a pulsing blue. At this point, I had a functional Level 2 240V 50amp hardwired home EV charger with CCS connector. What did this cost me, simple a total of $1,032.23 Level 2 ChargePoint+ Home Flex hardwired charger: $549.99 plus $54.99 sales tax before $200.00 rebate. Total Cost of Materials: $391.77 which was from Home Depot & Lowe's. Tools bought for the job: $110.48 which comprised of a 6 AWG wire striper and a Torque Screwdriver set from Harbor Freight. Electrical Permit: $125 from the city. Best part of this is the cheap charging we get at home at .10 cents per kW. The ChargePoint app allows me to track and monitor in real time our costs and amount used, so it will make it easy to subtract it from the electrical bill to see the house use versus the EV. The app shows that I am constantly at the 11kW controller capabilities of home charging from Kia. This brings me back to why I titled this the Good, Bad and the Ugly. New Service request is the ugly as the costs of the new service from my power supplier has costs that have never been talked about before to me and I still have to pay for the electrical use which makes this the ugly when you are looking at a five figure cost. The bad is clearly adding the new service panel and the associated costs to an electrical company to do the work, pretty much double what the auto industry has stated having a Level 2 home charger installed would actually cost. Good is for those of you who are willing to learn and do the work, a DIY install is in my humble opinion a very cheap way to go even though it did take a chunk of my time, I have no regrets about learning the process to install and dealing with my city on installation. End result is a quality home charger that will serve me well for many years. Please post any questions or comments, happy to respond on this personal journey into home charging of my EV. View full article
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