Driving a stick shift has become pretty much a lost art in the United States in recent years.
As automatic transmissions have become widespread across all car segments (not to mention more capable and efficient), there’s little incentive for customers to buy cars with manual gearboxes anymore.
We’re obviously talking about regular buyers that are not necessarily car buffs. Gearheads will continue to buy stick shift as long as automakers provide them, although not even car enthusiasts can ignore the advantages of dual-clutch transmissions, for example.
Only 3.7 percent of CarMax sales nationwide are for manual cars
But just how many people still buy manual transmission cars in the United States? And what are the states that favor these vehicles? CarMax, the nation’s largest used-car retailer, decided to delve into its data to find answers. The results are quite surprising. All following percentages apply to CarMax used car sales from August 31, 2017, through August 31, 2018.
For example, only 3.7 percent of the sales of CarMax vehicles nationwide are from stick shift cars. The downward trend is very obvious. In 1995, 26.8 percent of the company’s sales were for manual vehicles. That accounts for a drop of 86.2 percent.
New Mexico buys the highest percentage of stick shift cars
Stick shift cars are more popular in some places than in others, so CarMax also analyzed geographic data. Here’s what they found.
The states with the highest share of purchases of manual transmission cars are New Mexico, Idaho, and Rhode Island, with more than 5 percent each. On the opposite side, the states where stick shift cars are the least popular are Illinois and Mississippi, with little over 2 percent each.
We get it why people in a southern state with warm weather like New Mexico want to drive manual transmission vehicles. Why doesn’t the same thing happen in Mississippi, though? One explanation could be that the latter is an agricultural state where pickup trucks reign supreme. And no one wants to drive a manual pickup.
El Paso is the city with the largest share of manual car purchases
Finally, when it comes to cities that have the greatest purchase rates of stick-shift cars, the champion is El Paso, Texas. Slightly more than 6 percent of CarMax customers pick cars with manual transmissions there, with Dothan, Alabama a close second.
The city with the smallest share of manual transmission cars? Birmingham, Alabama, with less than 2 percent. The latter is hard to explain because it enjoys the same weather as Dothan in the same state. Yet, the popularity of stick-shift cars is much smaller in Birmingham.