In 2022, electric powertrains overtook manual transmissions for sales of cars and SUVs in Australia – three years after the US.
Sales of electric passenger cars and SUVs surpassed those with manual transmissions for the first time in Australia last year.
Data provided by the industry association Federal Chamber of Automotive (FCAI). drive shows that 14,287 cars and SUVs with manual transmissions were sold last year, compared to 33,357 with electric drives.
The sales result comes amid an increase in electric vehicle sales — up 94 percent in 2022 across all vehicle types (cars, SUVs, trucks and vans) compared to 2021 — and the continued decline in the popularity of manual transmission cars.
In 2021, sales of manual transmission cars and SUVs narrowly jumped about 400 cars, with 17,653 sales reported, compared to 17,198 electric cars and SUVs.
However, when Utes and Vans (light commercial vehicles) are included in the data, manual transmissions remain more popular than electric drives.
For passenger cars, SUVs and light commercial vehicles, 48,922 examples sold had a manual transmission – 70 percent or 34,635 of which were submarines and vans – compared to 33,410 electric vehicles.
Just 53 electric light commercial vehicles were reported as sold last year – as there are only a handful of electric vans and one electric Ute (which went on sale in November) for sale, which command significant price premiums over regular diesel versions.
As previously reported, EV sales are growing rapidly in Australia, with the 33,410 sales reported as sold in 2022 up 94 per cent over 2021 sales, which is itself 232 per cent up on 2020 figures.
Meanwhile, sales of manual transmission passenger cars and SUVs have fallen 93 percent in two decades, from 193,482 in 2002 to 14,287 in 2022.
The shift in popularity away from manual transmissions has been accelerated by fewer vehicles offering the three pedal option.
Vehicles that have lost the manual transmission option in the last five years include the Toyota Yaris and Corolla hatchbacks, the Volkswagen Golf GTI and R hot hatchbacks, the Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5 SUVs, the Ford Ranger and most versions of the Porsche 911 sports car.
However, manual transmissions remain available in a range of vehicles – either as “Price Leader” models to lure buyers into showrooms with a low entry price point, in sports cars and heavy-duty four-wheel drives for enthusiastic buyers, and as entry-level 4×2 work environments where manuals remain are relatively popular.
As manual transmission sales decline — and electric cars soar — some automakers are trying to combine the two concepts to create high-performance electric vehicles that deliver the manual transmission experience of a gasoline car.
Toyota’s luxury offshoot Lexus is developing technology to put a manual transmission in an electric car – with a real clutch pedal and shifter and a fake tachometer, but intelligent software to rev the electric motor more like a motor.
While the Lexus system relies on software to deliver the manual transmission experience — akin to a computer game — US brands Jeep and Ford have unveiled concept cars that adapt a physical manual transmission to electric motors.
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