In the UAE used car market, a noticeable trend has emerged – the decline of manual transmission cars. Despite accounting for a mere 3% of the total used cars in the region by October 2023, this figure is part of a broader 5-year range fluctuating between 2.6% and 7%. While this represents a decline from the peak of 7.4% in Q2 2021, it remains slightly higher than the historical low of 2.6% in 2018.

The Popular Players: Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Ford

Delving into the specifics, Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Ford emerge as the forerunners in the manual transmission domain, constituting approximately 12.5%, 8.3%, and 5.4% of the manual cars listed for sale in the UAE. Google Trends further solidify their lead, with related queries around ‘Manual transmission’ frequently associated with these brands.

Consumers may attribute the preference for these brands to specific models tailored to the UAE’s unique driving conditions. Notably, vehicles like Nissan’s Patrol, Land Rover’s Defender, and Jeep’s Wrangler find a significant niche in the market, hinting at a potential correlation between manual transmissions and off-road capabilities–a vital consideration in the UAE’s diverse terrains.

Passenger vs. Commercial Segment

A clear divide emerges when examining the distinction between passenger and commercial vehicles. The data reveals a downtrend in the number of manual passenger cars, dropping from approximately 65% in 2019 to 35% in 2023. Manual transmissions consistently hover around 65% in commercial vehicles, contrasting with this decline.

Several factors contribute to this stark contrast. The long-term trend towards improved fuel efficiency in automatic cars, coupled with the ease of use and shorter learning curves, has accelerated the decline of manual passenger cars. The introduction of numerous commercial vehicles into the market, likely driven by the fluctuating demands of logistics companies amid the pandemic, further underscores this shift.

Fuel Efficiency, Ease of Use, and Learning Curves

The allure of automatic transmissions lies in their improved fuel efficiency, offering drivers a more economical and environmentally friendly option. Additionally, their user-friendly nature makes automatic transmissions an attractive choice for both seasoned drivers and those new to the road.

The changing dynamics of the automotive industry could also influence the decreasing popularity of manual transmissions in passenger cars. With advancements in technology and a surge in the availability of automatic options, consumers are more inclined towards the convenience and comfort offered by automatic transmissions.

Off-Road Adventures and Race Cars

While manual passenger cars face a decline, there remains a niche market for them in specific use cases. Off-road enthusiasts and race car aficionados continue to appreciate the precision and control that manual transmissions provide. The popularity of models like the Jeep Wrangler and Nissan Patrol among manual offerings suggests that these vehicles cater to a specific audience seeking adventure and performance.

The dwindling presence of manual transmission cars in the UAE used car market is indicative of a broader global trend favoring automatic transmissions. As the automotive industry continues to innovate and cater to evolving consumer preferences, the ease of use, fuel efficiency, and shifting dynamics in the commercial sector are shaping the choices of UAE drivers. While manual transmissions may be on the decline, they persist in specific niches, reminding us of the diversity of the automotive landscape in the UAE.