Be The Primary Resource of Information For Your Customers

Rarely, if ever, do I see companies in the automotive industry, especially car dealerships, be the primary resource for car buying research. Whether this has to do with dealership’s fear of liability should their information be inaccurate or belief that car buyers always research using third party resources, these dealerships are missing a golden opportunity to appear more knowledgeable than their competition. Social media should be the platform to display your expertise, and seeing that car buyers are still unsure about what vehicle they want to purchase, despite resources they have on the Internet, you should provide them with information that answers their questions, problems, and concerns.

As the automotive industry becomes more competitive as the years progress, car buyers are finding themselves indecisive in almost every market. The CUV, SUV, and hatchback markets are filled with auto brands competing for the top spot, but unless you’re diligently researching, it might be difficult distinguishing who offers more. This is where car dealerships can have a lasting impression on potential car buyers. Discuss the vehicles you have on your lot, post pictures that give an inside look at the vehicle, talk about benefits of ownership, and why future car buyers should choose the brand you sell over other brands.

For consumers who are looking at hatchbacks, why should they buy a Volkswagen Golf over a Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra GT, Kia Forte5 or Honda Fit? Would some of your potential customers see the need to buy the e-Golf, which is an electric powered variant of the German hatchback? Despite the knowledge that’s at their fingertips, consumers don’t know the difference. You have to be that resource through your social media pages, and share the specifications, facts, and the benefits because the consumers aren’t quite sure.

Why should car magazines or even people giving car buying advice on Reddit be the primary resource of information? I’ve seen time and time again where people who have no knowledge of the car industry are giving car recommendations to people who would be better served buying a cheaper more economical car that fits their budget. Someone who is on the fence about buying a new Toyota Camry or Honda Accord shouldn’t be influenced into buying a used Infiniti or Lexus. Because the Internet allows anyone to give advice, why don’t car dealerships join in, and be that legitimate and accurate resource that can influence car buyers in a positive way?

In previous articles, I’ve talked about native content and how vital and essential it is on Facebook and Instagram. Being a resource ties into native content. Be the library of knowledge consumers are looking for. You’re the ones with the vehicles and have been trained to sell those specific brands, use that to your advantage.

The car industry is stubborn to try new ways of marketing, but native content, along with giving consumers information on the cars they’re looking for beyond just the price tag, can have a major impact on your social media marketing. As I’ve said before, selling hard on Facebook and Instagram doesn’t work, so why not give potential car buyers the benefits of owning the car, and then they’ll decide whether they’ll visit your dealership or not.

Use Social Media To Showcase Your Cars

I’ve gone in-depth on the importance of a strong social media presence for car dealerships. Now it’s time to take it up a notch and discuss content, primarily content of the cars and services you offer. As I’ve said many times before, only 5-10% of dealerships are actually using social media effectively, and not just selling hard trying to make a quick sale. The more I talk to marketers in the industry and car dealerships who market on Facebook and Instagram, the more I realize that social media is meant to build a connection, one that takes a lot of time and effort.

How to build that connection is the question many car dealerships ask themselves because they’re not seeing engagement from current followers and are seeing absolutely little to no results using social media. The answer to their problem lies within the native content they post, or the lack thereof. Dealerships who primarily use the same content from the car brand itself, share third party articles, or revert to hard selling give up with Facebook and Instagram within a few months. The ones who are still operating their accounts post inconsistently or with very little interest because they don’t see the results they want. Again, it all comes down to native content.

Combine your dealership’s showroom, car lot, a smartphone or some other camera, and social media and you’ve got all the content you could ever want. For example, I’ve seen a decent amount of car dealerships who sell the entire Fiat-Chrysler brand (this includes Dodge, Jeep, and Chrysler). They have a wide selection of vehicles that go from high performance vehicles with the Challenger and Charger, to luxury sedans such as the Chrysler 200 and 300, to off-road capable SUV’s that cover the entire Jeep lineup. It’s not possible that these dealerships can’t put together a collage, a handful of posts, or interesting content centered around these vehicles.

The showroom is usually where the best vehicles are stored. Take photos of them and post those pictures to Instagram. If winter is around the corner, start promoting your Jeeps by posting great content displaying them on your Facebook page. You might say, “But I’m not seeing results”, and that’s because you’re not using social media in a way that appeals to your customer base. Social media is all about visualization, eye candy that makes people Like, share, and comment on the photos or other forms of native content you’re sharing. Just posting generic photos of cars, with the hard selling copy such as, “We’ve got the SUV’s you need for this winter, so come test driver one” won’t work. Not on Facebook. If the customer really needs a vehicle, he or she will visit your showroom, there is no need for selling hard on another platform.

Take photos of the exterior and interior. Show the center console and interior features. Because cars have become more technologically advanced, consumers now want to experience being in the drivers seat to get an idea of what they’ll be expecting when they test driver the vehicle. The best way to do that is by posting pictures of the interiors, both on Facebook and Instagram. Another idea is to share photos of the cars you have in front of your store. Make the customer aware of what your dealership looks like, and use the nice cars you’re selling to your advantage. Your cars are your decorations, don’t be afraid to display them.

Social media is changing how consumers shop. Unfortunately the automotive industry is far behind the curve. To become relevant to your target customer base, you have to market in a way that is relevant to them and how they interact on the Internet. It’s essential to speak their language, and give them what they want when they’re scrolling through their news feeds.

Facebook and Instagram Are Important Platforms For Car Dealerships

With the existence of social media and the changes in how we communicate, there’s now a difference in how people shop. Instagram and Youtube has given consumers the ability to visualize themselves owning and driving the cars they see, both in pictures and videos. Facebook then comes in as being visual, while also striking a cord with customers, by writing a few sentences that make an emotional connection with the cars they own, or will own in the future. Car dealerships are far behind this curve, as car brands have taken to Instagram and Facebook, seeing results that’s creating a very loyal following.

Think back to when your parents or one of your older neighbors bought a car. Sometimes they’d be extremely loyal to a certain brand. “I only buy a Cadillac” or, “Ford makes the best cars and that’s why they’re the only cars I drive”. Today, it’s much different. Consumers aren’t as brand loyal in some cases, and can easily be influenced by other brands just by their marketing and the products they’re selling. Not only can the cars themselves influence these consumers, but also their interactions with the brands on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook is where most of the one-on-one interactions take place, and for the car dealerships who are using the platform correctly, they’re building long-term relationships with those customers. On a side note, this is where posting native content worth engaging with comes into play. If you’re posting articles from Car & Driver, Consumer Reports, or some other third party source, you won’t see engagement from your followers. By sharing pictures of vehicles in your showroom, along with exterior and interior shots of individual cars, you’ll begin to see growing interest from current and potential future customers.

I can’t stress enough the importance of interior pictures of your cars. Very few car dealerships use them on social media, and in fact, you’re withholding the most effective content you currently have. Anyone can Google search the car they want, but very few photos with the interior of the car with a real life setting. Usually most photos have a white backdrop, or fake scenery in the background, giving customers an inaccurate view of what they’ll be experiencing when they get behind the wheel.

I understand that the dealerships who do post pictures of their pre-owned lot on Facebook tend to not go too far into detail because there’s a high probability that particular car could be gone tomorrow, possibly upsetting a few followers. However, you shouldn’t be too shy from sharing your pre-owned lot, even if it’s a wide shot, especially if they’re certified pre-owned inventory where most if not all of the vehicles are by one brand.

With new cars though, post pictures, both the interior and exterior. Why have your customers go on Autotrader.com or Cars.com to get a visual of the cars you sell. While you do want them to go on your website for those details, having those pictures on Facebook too would allow interested customers to contact you via social media. This allows for instant communication, or you can try encouraging them to call if they have more questions.

As I’ve said before in multiple articles in the past, I’m very against the hard sell on social media. You’re building a community of happy customers, while also reaching out to potential car buyers. Never revert to the, “Come visit our showroom” line, because that doesn’t work. If the customer is interested they’ll visit your dealership. Your job on Facebook and Instagram is to give them a visual appeal that attracts them to your dealership and social media pages. While your ultimate goal is to sell cars, Facebook and Instagram should be used with the intent of creating a connection with the customers, whether they’ll be visiting your dealership to buy a car, or after they’ve already purchased it.

Many dealerships aren’t even using social media, and if they are, it consists of hard selling copy, along with recycled content used from some other dealership or the car brand’s advertising department. Post native content that the consumer can’t get anywhere else. That’s your value proposition on social media, and because 90-95% of dealerships don’t use Facebook or Instagram right, there’s your advantage over the competition. Social media is meant to build a long-term, and hopefully, a life-long connection with the customer. Don’t hard sell and just continue posting relevant and native content that will keep your followers coming back for more.

Social Media Can Help Clear Out Old Inventory

Constantly keeping my eyes open and on the lookout for great car deals, I’ve noticed some dealerships still have new 2014 models in their inventory. This poses the question. Why? The vehicles that I’ve seen are actually not base trims, and in fact a few come with power seats, moonroof, LCD monitor, and bluetooth. Even better, they’re priced below MSRP, meaning consumers will get a great deal if they walked into these dealerships right now. I’ve seen 2014 Ford Focus sedans, which are usually priced at $20,500, now at or below $14,000. These dealerships are desperate to get rid of them, and this is where social media comes in.

Most of the car dealerships that are utilizing Facebook and social media have put an emphasis on displaying their used vehicles, and some haven’t been shy about the price either when interested people ask. While on occasion, dealerships post pictures of their new cars and get immediate inquiries. It’s no coincidence however that the dealerships who have no social media, or don’t post frequently, still have inventory left over from a year or two ago. Worst of all, the pictures haven’t been updated. So you’ll be scrolling through new cars, and one car that’s listed has 15-20 photos with snow in the background. Not good scenery if your potential customer is buying a car on the cusp of summer. People will begin to think that maybe something is wrong with the vehicle, hence it still being in the inventory.

If these dealerships are really concerned about remaining inventory, social media is the answer. With the cars priced below MSRP, potential car buyers might be more willing to walk into the dealership because the haggling and negotiation process will not be that big of an issue, considering some of the cars’ price tags have been slashed by $4,000- $6,000. Social media also makes car buyers aware of these vehicles being on the market. Unless they’re researching diligently, they’ll never know your dealership has these cars at a reasonable price. While you’d probably prefer them buying the 2015 models due to higher profit margins, you have to find a way to get aging inventory off your hands so you can make more room for current model years.

This is where the power of Facebook comes into play. Assuming that you’re really serious about getting these cars off your hands, you start posting in-depth statuses about these cars. By stating the benefits instead of using hard selling copy, you can entice customers to visit your showroom.

For example. I’ve seen multiple Hyundai Elantra GT’s listed on Cars.com. Because they’re 2014 models, they’re priced around $18,500 – $19,500, putting them in the same price range as the base model trim of the Volkswagen Golf, the Honda Fit, Toyota Carolla, and a slew of other economical and practical cars. By stating that the Elantra GT gets 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway, you can use fuel economy to your advantage. The fact that it’s a hatchback makes it perfect for college-aged adults due to larger cargo room than sedans, and it comes with 175 horsepower to get young drivers’ attentions.

Social media marketing isn’t difficult, and in fact will get easier as you consistently post and grow a following. By not posting on a daily basis, you become uninteresting to most people, and they’ll look to other dealerships who are engaging and sharing native content that is attracting consumers, and giving them the eye candy they crave.

Is Having The BRZ In Subaru’s Lineup A Waste Of Time?

When you think of Subaru you probably picture a Forester or Outback navigating through the woods on a dirt road, or a WRX STI racing on a rally circuit. AWD is it’s specialty, the ability that allows drivers to get from point A to point B throughout the winter, and give the owner a peace of mind when they get behind the wheel in treacherous driving situations. Subaru has never been known to appeal to the RWD, sports car community, and instead reaches the consumer who wants off-road capability or a vehicle that is immune to most, if not all weather conditions. The Subaru BRZ does not fit that mold and never will.

Last year Subaru managed to sell 7,500 BRZ’s, and during the best monthly sales, none of the figures reached 1,000 cars sold. Because Scion, Toyota, and Subaru collaborated on the BRZ/FR-S, Subaru isn’t taking a major risk, or one in which they’re not going to deal with the consequences of poor sales solely. Two other manufactures are also on the ship that appears to be sinking. The real question is whether Subaru is wasting their time with having the BRZ in their lineup.

Starting at $25,500, the BRZ is just a mere $1,000 cheaper than the base version of the WRX. They’re two completely different cars, but one offers more horsepower, AWD, four doors, and tradition, while the other is basically a rebadged Toyota. In the eyes of consumers the WRX’s 268 hp, coupled with a manual transmission, is more appealing than a 200 hp coupe. While they both are in different classes, the WRX will steal sales away from the BRZ because it offers more.

For Scion, the FR-S makes sense because they don’t have another sports car in their lineup that will compete in sales. The tC is cheaper with less horsepower, while the FR-S is more of a traditional performance coupe that attracts younger consumers who want a car with power. For the Toyota owned company, the FR-S isn’t as big of a waste of time, and in fact is seeing double the sales as the BRZ, and that’s because of the consumers that Scion attracts.

At the end of the day, there is no difference between the BRZ and FR-S except the badge on the front. The biggest variable however is the loyal consumers for both auto brands. Subaru is seeing limited sales, and from a numbers standpoint, they’re wasting their time by selling a coupe. Due to having a sports sedan within the same price range, the BRZ isn’t a great fit for the company. Scion on the other hand desperately needs the FR-S to succeed, and because of their minimal lineup range, the sports coupe can and will see better sales figures than it will for Subaru.

The BRZ was an experiment, one in which Subaru could see if they could make some noise in the sports coupe market. Because they have a tradition set on AWD and off-road capability, consumers aren’t flocking to Subaru dealerships to buy a RWD coupe that doesn’t fit in the AWD dominated lineup. Sales figures could rise, but it’s very unlikely. The remaining question is, how long will they keep the BRZ in their lineup before they cut their losses and move on?

Cadillac Will Soon Bow Out Of The Livery Market

A decision by Cadillac that has been long overdue will finally come to fruition as the American luxury car manufacturer will no longer be in the livery market. This comes after reports of the XTS’s lifecycle coming to an end, as this car was to attract the traditional Cadillac buyer. With sales still down, even after some exciting changes and announcements of new models, Cadillac needs to and is in the process of changing the perception the brand has had for many years, which is cars that are geared towards the older, affluent American consumer. By getting out of the livery market, this is one step in the right direction.

Seeing Cadillac’s in funeral processions gives the brand a bad image, especially in the eyes of the younger generations. How can the American automaker compete with their German rivals when 20 and 30 year olds are more interested and attracted to Audi, BMW, and Mercedes Benz? This has been the problem for Cadillac for many years, and by also being a part of GM and having their name thrown into the fire with all the recalls surely hasn’t helped. Since it doesn’t appear Cadillac is leaving GM anytime soon, now is the right time to take on the problems that they can control, and that’s to change the brand’s image entirely. By exiting the livery market and going full throttle into luxury and performance, the American luxury brand can once again compete against other luxury juggernauts.

The new Cadillac ATS-V got a warm reception when it was unveiled, so they need to take advantage and ride the momentum of positive vibes. It’s going to take a while for the changes to take full effect as consumers are not often quick to change perceptions towards brands, but if Cadillac can continue making bold moves and offering quality, luxury, and performance the car buyer wants, we could see a revival in sales.

The one real question at the end of the day however, is will consumers have a positive reaction to Cadillac’s desire to sell RWD cars? That’s still a question that’s up for debate as almost every car manufacturer has either focused on front-wheel drive, 4WD, or AWD drivetrains. Surely Cadillac will still offer 4WD/AWD, but they’re creating a small hurdle for themselves if they do intend on moving forward with plans to manufacture RWD cars, since the average consumer has been fully exposed to AWD capabilities by most auto brands.

Clarkson Fired: BBC Loses, Not Top Gear

It’s official, Jeremy Clarkson has been fired from BBC after an altercation with a producer. James May and Richard Hammond have already made it clear that they won’t continue making episodes without Clarkson so at the moment, the future of Top Gear looks grim. But BBC loses more than Jeremy Clarkson as Top Gear rakes in 50 million British pounds, the equivalent of $74 mil in our currency. There’s no way that the BBC will make that off their nature shows, Orphan Black, and the Three Musketeers, so it’s a bad business decision for them.

We can sit here and argue for hours about whether this was the right move, but by firing Jeremy Clarkson, BBC has essentially given him, May, and Hammond all the power to creating their own show or joining another network under a different name. There’s already been rumors circulating on the Internet that Sky News and ITV have interest in adding the trio to their TV lineup. Why not? $74 mil in extra revenue in a year is certainly worth it. There’s also rumors that Top Gear will be coming to America, which in terms of business and money, is a great move.

If there is one thing American companies and business owners are good at it’s making money. With Top Gear being on American networks, there would be more distribution, bigger profits, more episodes per year, and a bigger viewing audience. Netflix has also been rumored to be working on a deal with Jeremy Clarkson. So a company that’s dominated the movie rental industry, killing off Blockbuster, would be moving into a new market that will definitely bring revenue. This isn’t the end of Top Gear, this is just the beginning.

People seem skeptical due to the possibility of a non-compete in Jeremy Clarkson’s contract, but since he’s been fired, that contact could be voided, and May and Hammond are sure to follow suit. We’re either going to see this trio on another British TV network, or Top Gear is coming to America. There is no doubt that there are TV executives in the United States foaming at the mouths due to the potential of $74 mil in extra revenue.

Just as car companies are entering new markets and following the money trail, TV networks are going to do the same by trying to acquire these three for another show. The United States has always had businesses that capitalized off opportunities other companies gave them, and the BBC will be, without a doubt, the next corporation making a huge mistake.

This is bad business for the BBC. Think of how many other outspoken and controversial figureheads are still on TV. They bring in revenue and a strong viewing audience. Top Gear isn’t dead, and in fact, we may get a better show without the BBC overseeing operations and hindering these three from making the best TV show on the planet.

It’s your loss BBC. Not Top Gear’s, the fan’s, or Jeremy Clarkson’s. Just remember when viewership rankings tank, and lower yearly revenue starts giving you headaches, that you made the biggest mistake ever.

You Have $15,000, Do You Buy Or Lease A Car?

If you have $15,000 in cash, do you buy or lease a car? Actually, I’m going to make it more interesting. If you have $10,000 in cash would you buy or lease a car?

Having scanned through forums and Reddit, there are many young, and even older consumers, who ask the same question, usually with the same amount of money in hand asking for car buying advice. Now, if your commute to work and weekend trips make your annual mileage higher than 12,000 a year, then buying is the better option. But what about those who are driving around 8,000 – 10,000 miles a year. Would you still be so hasty to buy instead of lease?

Most people feel that leasing costs you more in the long run. But does it really? True, your car payments could be higher per month, but because it’s a new car, you won’t have to factor in major maintenance costs. At $10,000 – $15,000, you’re not going to end up with what you want. Certified pre-owned, you’re looking at the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, or Toyota Corolla to name a few. Used can be a case of trick or treat. There’s always diamonds in the rough, but more often than not, you’ll end up with someone else’s problem. Mechanical failure is likely, factoring into the overall cost of the car, while it’s aging, and every year the resale value is slowly tanking. You either wind up with a money pit, or a decent car that will last you a few years before maintenance issues could arise.

Now let’s look to leasing. You have $10,000 – $15,000 in hand and you’re visiting local dealership websites comparing lease offers and deciding which one works best for you. You stumble upon a great deal. Your local Ford dealership down the street has a lease offer for a new Ford Escape SE; $4,173 due at signing, $159 a month for 24 months. If my math is correct, for those 2 years it will cost you a grand total of $7,989, not including oil changes and annual maintenance. You’re saving $2,000 in the long run, which will be two grand more saved up for your next lease. If you buy a $10,000 car, you’re looking at a world of unknowns.

So the choice. A new Ford Escape SE or an 8 year old car with 50,000+ miles on it. $8,000 overall in 24 months, or $10,000, plus maintenance that will inevitably happen sometime during your ownership of the car.

Another example; this time you have $15,000. Now I’m sure you can find some sweetheart deal for a 6+ year old Infiniti G35 or G37 or an older BMW 3 Series, but again let’s factor in unforeseen maintenance. But you decide, “I’ll lease instead because I want to drive a new car”. Here are the potential options you have. Let me just say this is all predicated on what the dealerships in your area are offering. Here’s a few from my neck of the woods.

Audi A3: $2,694 downpayment, $299 a month for 36 months = $13,458

BMW X1: $4,000 downpayment, $239 a month for 36 months = $12,604

BMW 320i X-Drive: 4,000 downpayment, $239 a month for 36 months = $12,604 (Same offer as the X1)

Infiniti Q40: $1,499 downpayment, $229 a month for 39 months = $10,430

Lexus IS 250: $1,599 downpayment, 349 a month for 36 months = $14,163

These are just some of the deals that are out there. They all cost under $15,000 within the three year window you have the car. Most come with leather seats, heated seats, bluetooth, navigation, and electric sunroof. So think about it for a minute. You can have a luxury car for the same price, or less than if you bought a certified pre-owned Honda Civic. There are even better offers out there if you don’t want to spend $15,000.

After seeing this, would you still buy or would you lease?

Are Consumers’ Demand For Luxury Interiors Driving Prices Up?

In an age of living a luxurious life, even for those living well beyond their means, we’re seeing prices gradually moving up, pinching middle class consumers in the process. The automotive market is one of those industries in which we’re witnessing the inflation of car prices. Vehicles that shouldn’t be priced any higher than $16,000 – $18,000 are nearing $20,000+, and consumers are beginning see how buying a 1-2 year old used car is a better fiscal decision than walking into the dealer and driving off the lot in a brand new car. But are consumers partially to blame for the uptick in vehicle prices?

Europeans are known to prefer luxury and driving experience over flat-out performance, which is why European auto makers produce more expensive cars that capture the very best in what the automotive world has to offer. Over the years we’re seeing this trend beginning to grow in the United States as flat-out performance is not selling as quick as luxury, something Cadillac refuses to see as they’re marketing performance first and their sales figures are dropping because of that. Muscle cars have made a slight rebound with the emergence of the Dodge Charger and Challenger Hellcats, the new fastback Ford Mustang, and the Chevrolet Camaro which will be sporting a new look next year.

If you’ve been to car shows recently you’ve noticed that interiors of low-end cars now have an upscale appeal. The Mazda3 and Mazda6 have very comfortable and luxurious interiors, which is a slight shock considering that they’re not a luxury brand. The Honda Civic EX-L, priced around $25,000, has an amazing interior, and if you forget about the engine that it has, you’d have to say that it’s a very impressive car. This leads me to the Toyota Yaris, which some trims cost near or exceed $19,000. That’s absolutely outrageous as this is the Hyundai Elantra GT’s price range territory. True, it gets less gas mileage than the Yaris, but why buy a micro hatchback when you can buy a full size for the same price?

The interiors and their infotainment systems are partially to blame, but so are the consumers. Bluetooth, navigation systems, electric sunroofs, touch displays, and premium cloth or leather seats all factor into the price. The reason why cars like the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris are considered economical cars is because they’re supposed to be cheap while also offering great gas mileage. Not in 2015. While you have the option to buy the base model, $16,000 is still no drop in the bucket either. Which raises the question as to why consumers would buy new in this current market? Leasing offers have become more appealing than buying, and you actually end up with a better car for 24-36 months than if you bought a car for $18,000.

The luxurious lifestyle is great, but are we living way beyond our means? The Mazda3 was once affordable, a rival to the Ford Focus. Now a top trim Mazda3 is impeding on the Chrysler 200’s territory. For those who do have the money to buy a $25,000+ car, this is a great time to buy. Instead of spending $40,000 on a Mercedes Benz or BMW, you can get an upscale interior for a fraction of the cost. In the sure sense of practicality, a top trim Mazda3, Subaru Impreza Premium, or a Honda Civic EX-L is a much better option, and you don’t break the bank buying a car that offers every infotainment system on the market.

Car companies have their reasons for spiking the prices of cars, but consumers’ demands for luxury interiors and infotainment systems have been a cause for more expensive cars that were once affordable. Whatever happened to the days when we’d get in our cars, turn on the radio, roll the windows down, and enjoy the driving experience? Owning a luxury car is by no means a bad thing, but we’re continuously outdoing ourselves by demanding luxury in cars that are nowhere close to being upscale.

#SaveTheManuals: A Valiant Effort All For Not

The age of the manual transmission is coming to a close. With automatics dominating the auto market, auto-shift and paddle shifters replacing the traditional manual, hard core car enthusiasts will have to either buy an older car or hope an auto manufacturer specifically targets to a dwindling market. As of right now, manuals make up about 6-10% market share, leaving the other 90-94% to being automatics or non traditional manuals that allow the driver to switch from manual to automatic when he/she so chooses. Last month, Acura announced that the only car in their lineup that will have a manual transition will be the ILX, which hasn’t generated great sales for the Honda-owned car brand.

When Ferrari, Lamborghini, and McLaren have paddle shifters on their models, you know we’re entering into a new era of cars. People have given many reasons as to why this phenomenon is happening. Some say it’s because the infotainment systems in cars require too much attention from the driver, so manually shifting become a second thought. Others say it’s because automatics have become just as fuel efficient as manuals, and due to the computer systems in cars now, the car can shift just as good, if not better than a human. But I personally believe that automatics are more convenient. Isn’t that where our culture is heading? Convenience?

A 16 year old who is learning how to drive, or just got his/her license can just get behind the wheel, put the key in the ignition, and drive off to their destination. There is no energy required, no secondary action needed while driving, and with the cars that are being produced today, a person driving an automatic can fully enjoy their vehicle just the same as owners of manuals.

Let’s also remember that auto manufacturers are companies. They’re following the money, and that trail does not lead to a large market for manuals. Six to ten percent isn’t a huge chunk of the market. In the last 35 years, we’ve seen a 25% drop in demand for the traditional manual, which means less money is going to that market. For these companies to survive they need to follow the money. This is the same reason that every car brand is entering the crossover market. Porsche manufacturing two SUV’s and a four door, and Ford bringing the Focus RS to America to compete with the likes of the Subaru STI and the Volkswagen GTI, is another example of car brands getting into a market that is making money.

We’re seeing a massive change and shift in the automotive world. Because of these changes, transmissions, infotainment systems, and other components have been updated to appeal to a broader market. Unless consumers start buying manuals, the days of the traditional stick shift will be over. It’s been a valiant effort, but it might be all for not.