Zachary Berry

New CarMax Study Showcases Where Manual Transmissions Are the Most Popular

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Nationwide, vehicles equipped with manual transmissions only made up 3.7 percent of CarMax's sales

Manuals haven’t disappeared from every automotive market just yet

Unfortunately for those who prefer to drive a stick shift, manual transmissions are becoming a thing of the past. A recent study conducted by CarMax found that only 3.7 percent of the company’s nationwide sales involved vehicles equipped with manual transmissions.

That same study revealed that manual transmissions are more popular in some parts of the country than others.

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Where manual transmissions are the most popular

On the top of the list for places where manual transmissions were the most popular was El Paso, Texas. 6.09 percent of the vehicles CarMax sold there included manual drivetrains.

Also in the list of the top 10 places for manual transmissions were Reno, Nevada; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Seattle, Washington; and Salt Lake City, Utah. It would appear that the Southwest and the West Coast seem to favor manuals more than other parts of the country.

Additionally, New Mexico was the state with the most manual transmissions. 5.65 percent of vehicles CarMax sold in the Land of Enchantment included this transmission style.

New Mexico is the place to go for manual transmissions
Photo:John Phelan

Where manual transmissions are the least popular

On the other end of the spectrum, Birmingham, Alabama, had the lowest percentage of manual transmission purchases. A mere 1.98 percent of sales involved a manual transmission-equipped model.

Other areas where manual transmissions have fallen out of favor include Chicago, Illinois; Memphis, Tennessee; Atlanta, Georgia; and Houston, Texas. In all of these areas, the number of manual transmission-equipped vehicles sold was under the national average of 3.7 percent.

The state with least manual transmissions was Illinois. Only 2.04 percent of CarMax’s Illinois-based customers purchased a vehicle with a manual transmission.

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Chicago isn’t a big fan of operating a stick shift
Image: Señor Codo, Flickr

What this all means for manual transmissions

It may be easy to conclude that manuals are more popular in areas that receive less winter weather. However, the presence of areas like Seattle on the places where manuals are most popular seems to reject that hypothesis.

Of course, all of the data for this study came from CarMax’s own sales. It could simply be that CarMax doesn’t receive a lot of trade-ins that come equipped with manual transmissions.

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Still, the study also found a rapid decline in manual transmissions in just the past two decades. In 1995, 26.8 percent of the vehicles CarMax sold included manuals. Now, that number has been reduced to under 4 percent.

As fewer automakers offer manual transmissions with their vehicles, it will become increasingly more difficult for enthusiasts to find used models with manuals. As a large portion of enthusiasts tend to buy used, this will be bad news for those who prefer the driving experience than only a manual transmission can offer.

Source: CarMax