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Why do Americans Drive Automatics But Most Of Europe Drive Manuals?

Americans and Europeans are vastly different. Of course, other than the fact that one represents people from a country while the other represents people from a whole continent, there are many differences. Being on different spots on the earth, there are major cultural differences. But there is also a difference in the way people drive cars and how they like to interact with their vehicles. One such trivia is that most Americans drive automatic and Europeans drive manual.

About 96% of Americans prefer driving an automatic car, and manual cars do not even make up most of the car market in the US. You can go to Carhp to check. Other differences include driving on different sides of the road, the type of cars made available, and a distinct difference in the driving style. Any American would need to get adjusted to the European way of driving, while the same can be said for an American. So, why are there differences?

According to statistics, about 96% of Americans drive automatic cars. Also, it was found that only around 2% of cars sold in the US are manual. Manual transmission is one of the most neglected segments of the car industry in the US. So much so that even the manufacturers have stopped bothering to provide manual transmissions in cars for the US market. However, that does not mean that manual transmissions are completely out of the equation.

But if you look at the European market, you would still find a ton of manual transmission vehicles being sold and actually being used by the people. They have not switched completely to the automatic. But why is that? Why don’t Americans drive manuals as well? The difference lies in the way they drive the car and the way they interact with the car. Some people believe that Americans prefer to “multitask” while they are driving the car. 

An automatic transmission does not need constant attention and does not require you to remember to shift. It does that automatically for you. This allows the Americans to do other things, such as focus on eating inside their cars. Or, they could also conduct a business call while being on the wheel. Other than the fact these are completely irresponsible and could get you into trouble with the law, Americans prefer automatics because of this.

Europeans, on the other hand, are not the kind of people who enjoy eating while driving their car and also very rarely talk on the phone while driving. Also, since they are driving a manual transmission, they constantly need to be in focus and pay attention to what they are doing. Europeans rarely get distracted and do other stuff while inside the car. They appear to be much more responsible drivers.

Another fact that we can argue is perhaps Americans are lazier than Europeans. Learning how to drive a stick can take a long time and a long amount of practice. Europeans are more active and drive manual transmissions more.

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Another huge factor is that Europeans start learning how to drive on Micro Cars with manual transmissions, aged 15 or 16. Since they start early, and they basically learn how to drive using stick shifts, they are much more likely to stick to that, even after they have grown up. The habit is retained and it does not change with time. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who does not know how to drive a manual car. Even though an automatic provides you with the benefit of not having to be engaged, most Europeans still prefer being directly engaged with the car.

On the other hand, Americans, from a young age, learn how to drive an automatic. Just like Europeans, over the years, Americans have grown more and more fond of automatic transmission. Also, almost all American households own a car. They do not drive because they enjoy it. They drive because they have to. Commuting to work and coming back after a long day’s work can take a toll on their bodies. When you are exhausted after a hard day’s work, it is perhaps easier to let the car do the shifting for you as you can shift back a little and relax.

Another potential factor can be the fact that in certain countries in Europe, gasoline prices are higher. Europeans prefer manual transmission cars because some manual transmissions can actually use less fuel. Maybe that is another reason why Europeans are still more fixated on manual cars.

However, all of this does not mean that Americans do not love manual cars. Though the number is limited, there are still Americans who would prefer manual versions of some cars to their automatic. These are the typical enthusiasts – the ones who love the driving characteristic of a car more than anything one. And no matter how hard you argue, nothing offers more engaging of a driving experience than a manual transmission. Automatic can be beneficial for someone who “needs” to drive, but not necessarily “wants” to. Manual transmission offers the best experience for those who “want” to drive the car and to “feel” the driving experience of a car.

These enthusiasts would prefer the manual transmission of a car any day. But that does not include any car. Only those iconic sports cars which have made a name for themselves in the past; those which are extremely fun to drive get the seal of approval. For example, the Mazda MX-5 Miata, Porsche 911, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Corvette, and other similar sports cars on the market. Any enthusiast would tell you to get the manual version of these cars as if the automatic was blasphemy.

However, Americans and Europeans still have distinct driving styles, and both drive cars in their own ways. While people in Europe are a little more responsible, Americans like to take it easy and laid back. We think the way Europeans drive is better, not because they use manual transmission, but the fact that they drive more responsibly. Americans need to take things more seriously, and even if they don’t learn how to drive manual, they still need to avoid being distracted while being in the car. One small mistake could cost someone their life.

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