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  • On Stick Shifts

    This morning I came across an annoyingly sensationalized headline from CNBC regarding stick shifts (in Audi vehicles):

    The market for sticks is at a point “where it’s not a necessity or even much of an option,” said Mike Fiske, senior analyst at IHS Markit, who studies automotive powertrain issues.

    Look no further than Audi. The luxury automotive brand, part of Volkswagen Group, confirmed that it will no longer offer any manual-transmission vehicles in the U.S. beginning with the 2019 model year.

    I learned how to drive in a 1991 Ford Escort, replete with a broken A/C unit, manual transmission, leaky radiator and manual roll-down windows. The Texan summers were not kind to me nor that poor Escort. I have to say it’s a real treat to drive a manual sometimes. But, automatics are real smooth nowadays. Automatic trannies are very efficient by comparison, sure. But, that comes at a price. For one, they simply “don’t last as long as they used to,” or so the saying goes. Automatics have wholly separate electronic systems, separate pumps and liquids to maintain. That sucks. Anyways, the triage and repair of either transmission types are nightmarish and always expensive. As far as 4-wheeled transport goes, I can’t say I would prefer owning one over the other.

    At any rate, since when was Audi an auto trendsetter in the US? If you brush past the hyped interview quotations, and drab figure comparisons, you find the real nugget of the story:

    But while the manual transmission may be on its way out, the automatic transmission shouldn’t get too comfortable. In fact, its days could be numbered, too.

    That’s because electric vehicles, which enthusiasts believe could eventually overtake gasoline powered cars, don’t have transmissions at all.

    Well, I can’t wait. I want to live in a world where I don’t have to worry about transmissions anymore. In case you’re wondering, most electric vehicles have a two or single-speed gearbox, instead of a multi-speed gearbox.