keep on rowing

VW Says It’ll Keep Building Cars With Stick Shifts As Long as We Keep Buying Them


March 24, 2020 Cars By

Here in the year 2020, the manual transmission is an endangered species. There are still some great cars out there that offer stick shifts, but once-stalwart brands like Audi, BMW, and Subaru have all but abandoned them. Jeep didn’t bother pairing one with its best Wrangler; even the new Corvette has taken the dual-clutch automatic route. Many of those decisions, ominously, were dictated not by technological requirements, but by demand; buyers simply haven’t been choosing to row-their-own in the numbers they once did.

Volkswagen, however, has been a notable exception to this abandon-stick trend. You won’t find a six-speed manual on an Atlas, but budget cars like the Golf and Jetta and performance cars like the new GTI and Golf R still have them.

And it seems we can expect that situation to continue for some time to come. In a recent interview, Volkswagen technical chief Matthias Rabe told Autocar that “as long as there is a demand, we will continue to offer [manual gearboxes].”

How that sentiment meshes with Volkswagen’s commitment to an electric future…well, that’s a little unclear. (Electric cars rarely use transmissions; the sole new passenger EV to do so today is the Porsche Taycan, and it uses a simple two-speed automatic for improved acceleration.) But VW is one of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers; the company has the bandwidth to be an SUV manufacturer in America, a small car manufacturer in Europe, a truck manufacturer on other continents and a major EV player in all locales. Keeping around stick shifts should be pretty easy.

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Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol's Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He's based outside Detroit.

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