A majority of younger consumers surveyed say they are interested in learning to drive manual transmission vehicles, despite the hype surrounding electric vehicles, which are only offered in automatic.
Mini USA, a business unit of BMW of North America, recently opened a manual driving school for drivers interested in learning to drive “stick."
The automaker cites a survey commissioned by Engine’s Caravan as proof that there is still enthusiasm for the skill. The research found 63% of all respondents say learning how to drive a manual transmission is a rite of passage and an important life skill.
Additionally, “fun to drive” was the top characteristic respondents most associated with a manual transmission vehicle. However, despite this, less than a quarter (24%) of all respondents indicated they own a manual-equipped car.
Nearly half of all Gen Z (49%) and 42% of all women indicated they did not know how to drive a car with a manual transmission. When asked if they were willing to learn, more than half of all respondents (53%) indicated they are interested in learning. More than two thirds (67%) of respondents ages 18-34 indicate they are eager to learn to drive a manual transmission car.
These results come at a time when Mini USA is announcing the return of more models available with manual transmissions. As of November 2022 production, the automaker announced the return of manuals in its Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works 2-door hardtops.
Mini announced four additional models that will be available with a manual transmission. They include the Mini Cooper convertible, Mini Cooper S convertible, Mini Cooper 4-door hardtop and Mini Cooper S 4-door hardtop.
Ordering for these four additional models have opened effective this week, and will begin production March 1, bringing the total count of Mini models offered with a manual transmission to seven.
The automaker is offering a manual driving class in conjunction with the BMW Group Performance Center West in Thermal, Calif.
The course, which costs $499, is designed to welcome a new generation of manual drivers while allowing others to sharpen their skills after years of driving automatic.
The school creates a foundation for drivers to build their comfort with driving manual transmission vehicles, with a curriculum that focuses on vehicle controls, finding the friction point, practicing smooth starts, stops and acceleration. At the conclusion of the course, participants are tested on a timed course to assess their knowledge.