The stick shift is choking.
The popularity of cars and trucks with manual transmissions is falling sharply as fewer Americans learn how to drive them and automakers avoid making them.
On top of that, the long-held arguments in favor of driving a stick – that they make cars more fuel efficient and cheaper to buy – aren't always true anymore because automatic transmissions have greatly improved, erasing the practical reasons why some drivers preferred manuals.
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So while the stick shift isn't dead yet, its future is grim.
Once the only kind of transmission available, manuals became an essential part of a car's design, from nondescript, utilitarian sticks and silver wands to elegantly smooth cue balls. These pieces of jewelry were mounted between seats or next to the steering wheel. Now they've become almost irrelevant.
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.
The final Audi models offered with a stick-shift variant were the 2018 A4 sedan and A5 coupe, Audi spokeswoman Amanda Koons said.
From now on in the U.S., it's nothing but automatic transmissions for the German brand.