We’ll focus on the good news first. Honda sold 30 percent more manual transmission-equipped cars in 2018 than in 2017 for a total of 45,601 cars. Making that number even more impressive is the fact that the Honda brand’s total sales for the year went down by 2.2 percent.
But when you compare the percentage of manual cars to automatic ones, things look depressing. The Honda brand sold a total of 1,604,828 cars, so manual car sales made up just 2.8 percent of Honda’s total sales. The situation is only mildly brighter when looking at take rates for the models Honda sells with a manual. The best manual seller in 2018 was the Civic at 13.6 percent, which put it well ahead of the Corolla sedan’s 1-percent rate, but a bit behind the Corolla hatch’s 15-percent rate. The Civic also probably benefited from sales of the Si and Type R, which were and are only available with a manual transmission. The Fit was second at 10.5 percent, which was about twice that of the Toyota Yaris. The Accord’s take rate was just 1.7 percent. Looking just at trim levels, 5percent of Accord Sport buyers went for the manual.
2019 is looking worse for manuals. Year-to-date sales through April are 12,648, which is 2.6 percent of the brand’s total sales so far. The Fit and the Civic have had lower manual take rates this year, too at 4.1 percent and 10.1 percent respectively. The Accord’s manual take rate is slightly up at 1.8 percent.
This all is a bit depressing for fans of the manual transmission. But at the very least, Honda clearly still feels these percentages are big enough to merit offering the option on its three car models, and the same clearly goes for companies like the aforementioned Toyota and Mazda. So that’s at least something.