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Can MINI Save the Stick Shift?

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Posted On: Aug 9, 2011 By: Charles Kayajian  Category: MINI Cooper News

For a driving enthusiast, there are few activities more fun (and downright satisfying) than shifting through a manual gearbox. A manual transmission allows the driver to connect with the vehicle in a way that tiptronic systems and paddle shifters can only dream of replicating. Unfortunately, the stick shift is going out of style.

brake pedals

Why? Automatic transmissions are just easier. Many who drive to work or for work would rather not be bothered by a constant need to shift. In some cases, adults who spent their teenage years and early 20’s driving stick see the automatic as a welcomed luxury. Children raised in such families are left to inherit their parents’ automatic cars, doomed to a life mundane driving, devoid of a manual shifter. Without properly educating our youth about the joys of a standard transmission, the stick shift will surely become extinct.

Fortunately for manual maniacs like myself, there are actually car manufacturers who feel just as strongly about the joy of driving and the role that standard transmissions play in this process. MINI calls it “Manualhood,” and it is the focal point of their latest marketing campaign. As part of this promotion, MINI has been espousing the merits of the manual, pointing to its lower starting price and fantastic fuel efficiency. Of course with MINI, the way they communicate the methods used to promote the message are often more entertaining than the message itself.

• MINI will feature a manual car at all dealerships with “Manual Up” printed on the body

• MINI has stickers for drivers to put on their vehicles letting those who pass know the vehicle is a manual.

• There is a help line “855-Manual UP” that explains the virtues of manual driving and what it means to be a part of this special community.

• MINI is also showcasing their new hill-start assist technology which helps new drivers avoid rolling backwards when starting on an incline.

• MINI is offering a credit of $500 when customers purchase a manual

The Manualhood campaign is a bold move considering the dip manual vehicle sales has taken in the United States. AOL Auto reported that in 1985, 22.4% of all vehicles sold in the states had a stick shift. Fast forward to 2010 and that number drops to 5.5%. MINI, however, shows much stronger numbers in this shrinking market. 34% of MINI Coopers, Clubmans, and Convertibles were purchased with a manual transmission. In New England, 50% of those vehicles are standards. As these numbers prove, people who drive MINIs appreciate a manual transmission; the stick shift is interwoven into the sporting brand that MINI embodies.

As Thomas Salkowsky, Manager of MINI Brand Marketing notes:

“Manual is the essence of MINI; it’s about the fun of motoring. We just think there’s something to celebrate because manual drivers love to drive, and we want to rekindle that fun and enthusiasm about driving.”

As longtime driving enthusiasts, we look forward to MINI’s success.

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