Stick Shift – The Millennial Anti-Theft Device

Millennials Don’t Know What a Stick Shift Is

In a generation, Canadians have gone from telling stories about their stick shift driving adventures to the skill becoming a novelty. Today, most drivers don’t grow up driving a manual car.  Today, most parents have opted to automatic vehicles, abandoning the stick shift and not passing the driving skill onto their teen drivers. The stick shift has become the anti-theft device of Millennials.

Today, the percentage of vehicles that are being offered with a manual transmission has dropped significantly. In 1980, 35 percent of Canadians purchased a vehicle with a manual shift transmission. In most recent figures from 2015, that percent has dropped significantly to just 9 percent. The stick shift is no longer the “standard”, with automatic being the most popular transmission purchase option. In Canada, only 3.6 percent of new vehicle purchasers opted for a stick shift equipped vehicle, with the manual hovering on becoming obsolete.

Why Are Millennials Abandoning the Stick Shift?

Millennials, equipped with their degrees are not interested when it comes to the mechanics of vehicles and driving techniques. Past generations have spent many hours with their hoods up, pretending and learning about carburetors and motors. Today, millennials spend more time perfecting their playlists rather than looking under the hood (if they can find the latch). The problem is deeper, with most millennial drivers lacking the skills to check simple things such as tire pressure or even reading an owner’s car manual.

Manual vehicles have also become too complicated to be a family vehicle. For many car purchasers, the vehicle should be a source of personal enjoyment and in many cases, a family vehicle. Too many husbands have tried to teach their wives how to drive a stick, only to become too familiar with a smell often referred to a “burning clutch”. Unfortunately, vehicle enjoyment appears to trump personal enjoyment, leaving many drivers to abandon the manual stick shift.

Driving a stick shift takes mental vigilance. There are many factors to concentrate on when driving a manual transmission. Is the traffic flow enough to cruise in fifth gear or is a downshift required to get up a hill. Parking is also more task oriented and involves the emergency brake and ensuring that the car is left in first gear. Driving assessment is always required when driving a stick shift.

Young Drivers of Canada Still Teaches the Stick Shift

Driving a stick shift is becoming a lost art but Young Drivers of Canada still has one training vehicle in the GTA that is equipped with a manual gearbox. According to seasoned instructors with Young Drivers, students who want to learn how to drive a stick shift only represent about 2 percent of the total students enrolled with Young Drivers.

Young Drivers of Canada suggests that driving a stick shift is a generational problem – one generation is not passing driving stick to the next generation. Today, Young Drivers of Canada has students who have never been in a manual transmission vehicle and some don’t even know what one would look like. If their parents have not driven a stick shift, chances are they will never be interested in driving one as well.

High-end automobiles such as a Ferrari and many models of Porsche have dropped the manual option for their vehicles. The latest technology implemented in these vehicles allows for a dual clutch automatic system, which is not the same as a manual shift.

Manufacturers such as Subaru continue to encourage the manual shift vehicle. The Subaru WRX STI can only be purchased with a stick shift. The Ford Fiesta, Focus and Mustang provide for both a manual and automatic with the performance versions, Fiesta ST, Focus ST and various Mustang models only being offered in a stick shift. For Subaru, 90 percent of the purchasers of the BRZ opt for a manual shift. Perhaps Subaru has the right idea, build it and they will come.

Stick shift driving courses are available through the Advanced Driving Centre of Young Drivers of Canada located in Markham Ontario. To enrol in a stick shift course today, contact the centre  416-322-4774 or email



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