Our Great Big Love Affair With Automatic Transmissions
Mar 10, 2016 09:00
Just three years ago, less than 4% of all brand new cars sold had manual gearboxes. Americans love the automatic transmission and have done so for several decades. Our love affair with the auto box dates back to the early cars of the 1920s. Of course, technology has come a long way since those days.
We see automatic transmissions that offer more forward gears, for example. Dual-clutch designs allow us to shift up and down without using a clutch pedal. And CVT boxes provide superior gas mileage.
In some ways, our love affair with the automatic gearbox is odd. Why? Across the Atlantic, for instance, the British and their European counterparts mostly drive manuals. Still, the U.S. isn't the only nation where automatics dominate the market. So, why do we revere automatic gearboxes so much? And why do few of us enjoy driving a manual?
All manual drivers will admit they hate shifting all the time. Especially when they're stuck in traffic! With an automatic, all you need to do is leave the car in "D" and use one foot to control your speed or braking.
It's no secret that, as the population increases, more cars will be on American roads. And with that, traffic jams will become commonplace. Car manufacturers know that we want our vehicles to offer us convenience. The automatic transmission is one such way that can happen.
Hill starts are a dream
It takes a lot of skill to manage the clutch, brakes, gas pedal and parking brake in a manual simultaneously! Hill starts are an absolute nightmare for manual drivers. That's perhaps why places like San Francisco have few manual cars on their roads!
In an automatic, one need not worry about hill starts. The process of driving off from a hill is the same as on level ground. Stick the car in gear and drive! Also, automatic cars don't roll back when they're in a forward gear.
Things seldom go wrong with modern automatic transmissions
Yes, the old slushboxes of the past were often plagued with issues. These days, you'll only have a problem if you don't maintain your car. Modern autos are resilient and don't usually need servicing. Even if you needed a transmission repair, it's likely the fix is something easy (and cheap).
They are a boon for tech geeks
Are you a self-obsessed technology geek? If so, that's one of the reasons why you love automatics! Many high-end cars offer a plethora of driving "modes". You only have to look at examples from Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari to see what I mean!
Manual supercars are becoming a rare sight
Do you have a penchant for high-performance supercars? If so, you'll have to buy used if you want a manual car! Almost all cars from makes such as Ferrari to Porsche only come with automatic gearboxes. Many have paddle shifters fitted behind the steering wheel. Plus, even Formula One cars have such an arrangement.
With so much love for the humble auto box, the death knell has well and truly sounded for the manual gearbox!
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