Originally Posted by subyski
I'm even surprised that MTs are still offered in bargain base models today. In the past, more people drove MTs for performance but also for the value and incentive of higher mpg over the ATs. ATs where considered more "luxurious" but came at a cost. While ATs still cost more today from a MSRP and new technology cost point of view, the shear quantity of ATs that are made and sold (and because most ATs get better mpgs) should make producing a basic MT a wash.
The bargain base MT only idea seems like an old age American perception that car companies have. In my opinion, most people today interested in MTs do it for some performance or personal "feel" point of view and less about "value". For most, I don't see paying the extra $1k for an AT being such a burden as it once was and probably a benefit based on how cars are packaged these days.
Considering how MT take is so low anyways, lets consider the new Forester. Putting aside profit margins, how would total MT sales differ if the F2.5i was only available in a CVT and the FXT was offered in CVT and 6MT? And what if manufacturers started charging more for the MT over the AT/CVT option in more performance oriented applications? Note: I don't know these answers and like to hear other's thoughts. I'm not against ATs or DCTs.
I agree 100%. Manual is no longer an option chosen because you want a car as cheap as possible, but it's an option people who like cars (i.e. enthusiasts) want. These enthusiasts care about their cars and would spend enough money to buy a mid to upper level trim, especially if it's a more powerful drivetrain.
The 2014 Forester is a great example. The 6-speed should have been on the FXT models. The 2.5i models, especially the very basic 2.5i, are going to be used by a soccer mom who doesn't care if it's got a turbo or a stickshift. On the other hand, the FXT's buyer is probably an aging enthusiast who wants a compromise (quick car with the turbo, but can haul his family around). Which is where the 6-speed would be a good option.
I look at a lot of cars that have been released in the last few years and the stickshift seems to always be on the bottom. For example, the new Fusion has a pretty cool EcoBoost setup but the stickshift is only on the 1.6L EcoBoost if I'm remembering correctly. No enthusiast will drive that anemic car, the 2.0L is what they want. Or 6-speed + 2.0L + AWD. That combo doesn't exist for the Fusion, to my surprise (or not to my surprise).