It's not as bad as the US, but things are trending in the wrong direction.
In the United States, we have come to terms with the fact that manual transmissions are dying off at an alarming rate. Only about 3% of new cars in the US are sold with a manual and many manufacturers are simply refusing to build them anymore. Some automakers, like Ford, are keeping the manual alive with models like the Focus RS and Shelby GT350 that don't have an automatic option. The US may be a lost cause, but at least European countries like the UK are keeping the manual alive. Or so we thought.
Steve Fowler of Auto Express has a less-than positive outlook on the future of the manual in the UK. Fowler took a look at the new car registration data in the UK to see how many cars were being registered with automatic transmissions. Back in 2012, only 506,720 cars were registered with automatics. By 2017, that number has more than doubled to 1,016,516. We did some research of our own, and we noticed that total registrations did go up in that time from 2,044,609 in 2012 to 2,692,786 in 2017. Even though we could blame some of the those automatic sales on the increase in car sales, the percentage of automatics compared to manuals went from 24.7% in 2012 to 37.7% in 2017.
Fowler predicts that with the proliferation of electric and hybrid cars, the automatic will soon outsell the manual in the UK. This result is bound to be accelerated thanks to the UK's recent ban on gas and diesel vehicles by 2040. Manual drivers in the US could always look to Europe as a shining beacon that was keeping the sacred art form of driving a manual alive. Now the manual in the UK may meet the same fate as it did in the US, and that makes us sad.