Electric vehicle sales outpace manual transmission for the first time

What just happened? In the automotive world, manual transmission cars and electric vehicles (EVs) are both considered niche products right now. But interestingly, after a decade on the market, EV sales have finally outpaced stick-shift cars for the first time in the US – though that’s still not saying much.

In a tiny sign-of-the-times, electric vehicle sales have for the first time exceeded sales of manual transmission cars, accounting for 1.9% and 1.1% respectively of vehicles sold in the US last quarter.

Uptake of vehicles with manual transmissions has been declining for decades, as more drivers opted for automatic cars, and fewer models are made every year that require drivers to stick-shift. In the third quarter of 2019, manual transmission sales accounted for a paltry 1.1% of car sales in the United States.

That gives some context as to why this is a slightly underwhelming milestone for hybrid and fully-electric vehicles. EVs have been around for quite a while, and are seen by many as an integral part of the transition away from fossil fuels. The fact that they account for less than 2% of vehicles sold will come as disappointing news to some.

Yet EV adoption is slowly on the rise with more manufacturers announcing new electric models all the time, and EV-only producing company Tesla has had two record-setting quarters in a row.

The factors limiting EV uptake, including concerns around range, lack of charging stations, or price, are diminishing bit by bit, so that 1.9% market penetration is likely to continue rising. That said, even though technology popularized during the 2010s has finally outpaced technology from the 1890s, there’s still a long road ahead before it’s anywhere close to take over combustion engine vehicles.

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