Manual transmissions are not dead as people “still believe in the power of a firm handshake”

Article by Christian Andrei, on November 3, 2011

It’s a fact that manual transmissions are vanishing from the U.S. auto market but Cadillac has come out with a TV ad that touts its manual transmission as a mark of sportiness. In Cadillac’s national ad for its $63,215 CTS-V, it states that the company built a 556hp luxury car with a manual transmission “because there are those who still believe in the power of a firm handshake." Molly Peck, Cadillac advertising director, said that the company realizes that consumers “appreciate a manual” and that it’s not about saving costs but rather, it’s about the “engagement with the vehicle” that increases the thrill.

It isn’t just Cadillac that wants to promote its manual transmission. Mazda’s campaign also applauds manual shifting with this tag line, “Get your shift together.” Mazda North American Operations had recently presented a redesigned Mazda3 that has a new six-speed manual transmission as part of its Skyactiv fuel-economy package. The model is available with an older five-speed manual option that Mazda has decided not to drop just yet. Amid the development of new automatics, the automakers’ work on manuals actually doesn’t come easy. Mazda engineers have totally redesigned their shifting system so that the manual would be smoother.

This reduces the "travel distance" from gear to gear by just 5 millimeters but it’s worth it since it anticipates that almost one of five of those who buy a Mazda3 will select one with a manual transmission. Mazda is expected to soon present a redesigned CX-5 crossover with the six-speed manual in Los Angeles.

Those who buy the current CX-5 with the manual-transmission consist of slightly below 6%. Jeremy Barnes, Mazda's British-accented U.S. product spokesman, admitted that this isn’t big volume but then the point isn’t “demographic” but rather it’s a “psychographic.” He explained that Mazda’s manual transmissions appeal to the sporty end of the range and that this is what makes it different from Toyota and Honda.

Topics: transmission

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